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Our new Prime Minister must take diabetes seriously

Why it is vital that our government commits to improving diabetes care, and how you can help us influence them.

Right now, 4.9 million people in the UK are living with diabetes, that’s 1 in 14 people. The new Prime Minister needs to show us all that they are going to deliver for everyone affected by diabetes or at risk of type 2 diabetes.

How you can help

Improve lives, reduce costs

Preventing the rise in type 2 diabetes and supporting everyone with diabetes to live well would transform the public’s health.

The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has doubled in 15 years and continues to rise at an alarming rate, largely driven by a rise in type 2 diabetes. By 2030, one in ten adults will be living with the condition.

Living with obesity or overweight is the largest modifiable risk factor for type 2 diabetes, so we need the government to take meaningful action to support more people to maintain a healthy weight and create a healthy food environment.

The 2020 Obesity Strategy was an important starting point for this work, but the recent decision to backtrack on vital changes to advertising and promotion laws is a worrying signal that reducing obesity is being undermined by industry pressure.

The new Prime Minister should stand by commitments to improve our children’s diets and go further to stop the rise in type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a hidden condition. You might not be able to see it. But, without careful management, it can cause serious harm. Every week diabetes leads to 190 amputations, 770 strokes and 590 heart attacks. Not only do these complications devastate people’s lives, but they also increase pressure on the NHS.

Before the pandemic, diabetes care and treatment accounted for 10% of NHS spending. That equates to £19,000 per minute. The majority of this was spent on treating complications from diabetes, which could be largely prevented with the right support.

Evidence shows that good routine care can prevent these life-altering complications, and reduce hospital admissions and early mortality. Getting diabetes care right would relieve pressure on the NHS and transform people’s lives, so the new Prime Minister must prioritise restoring and improving diabetes services.

Make it fair

Diabetes doesn’t affect everyone equally. There are unjust inequalities in diabetes care, treatment and health outcomes. Among the wider population, inequality significantly impacts the opportunities individuals have to lead healthy lives. It reduces their risk of developing type 2 and gestational diabetes, resulting in worse health outcomes and costing lives. With the cost of living rising, these inequalities are only set to get worse. This has to change.

Government action is needed to mitigate the impact of rising prices on people’s health. We are concerned that the spiralling cost of living will hamper the ability of people with or at risk of diabetes to prevent illness or the onset of type 2 diabetes and ultimately lead to greater harm from diabetes.

The Office for Health Disparities has promised to deliver a white paper to set out a plan to tackle the inequities in our health. This is urgently needed, and the changes in Government must not see plans to tackle health inequality being sidelined.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is over twice as high for people living in the lowest income households compared to those with the highest incomes, and prevalence is also higher among people from Black and Asian backgrounds. It will take commitment from across government to stamp out these unfair disparities, and the new Prime Minister should lead this work, first by publishing the white paper, and then by committing to an ambitious and targeted strategy to end health inequality.

We are the 1 in 14

Diabetes is relentless. It is with you 24/7. It’s with you when you wake up, go to work, at every mealtime. You need the right care and support to manage diabetes, and right now, that’s not happening for too many people. We need the new Prime Minister to show that they will stand with the 1 in 14 people in the UK who live with diabetes and show that they will take diabetes seriously.

How you can help

Here at Diabetes UK, we will be taking your experiences and messages directly to the government this Autumn to demonstrate the need to restore and improve diabetes care as quickly as possible, tackle health inequality, and prevent the rise of type 2 diabetes. We will also be asking MPs to champion our calls in Parliament, and you can support this work by inviting your MP to listen to people affected by diabetes

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