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3.9 million people now living with diabetes

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The number of people with diabetes in the UK has reached an all-time high of 3.9 million, according to new figures released today by Diabetes UK.

The new figures, extracted from official NHS data and published at the start of Diabetes Week, show that there were 3,333,069 adults registered with diabetes in 2013–14, an increase of more than 125,000 adults compared to the previous year. This increase is equivalent to the population of Norwich. The number of people estimated to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes is 590,000 adults in 2013–14.

This means that the sharp rise in diabetes cases in recent years is continuing. Many cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented – but there is no way of preventing Type 1. With so many people now living with the condition, the NHS needs to prioritise giving people the education they need to manage their diabetes well.

Diabetes education

At the moment, diabetes education is barely provided resulting in devastating health complications, including amputation, blindness and stroke. Beyond the human suffering, diabetes costs the NHS nearly £10 billion, 80 per cent of which is spent on managing avoidable complications. But there is potential to save money through providing people with the education needed to help them self-manage and prevent these complications from developing.

Diabetes UK is calling on the NHS to ensure people living with diabetes are provided with education and support to manage their condition on a day to day basis effectively.

"Stark call to action"

Bridget Turner, Diabetes UK Director of Policy, said: “Over the last decade we have seen the number of people with diabetes rising at an alarming rate, and these latest figures are a stark call to action – we must act now or face the very real danger of diabetes devastating the lives of even more people, and threatening to wreck the already over-burdened NHS.

“There is a gaping hole when it comes to diabetes education because we know that most people newly diagnosed with diabetes are not offered a group education course. This is despite strong evidence that giving people the knowledge and skills to manage their diabetes effectively can reduce their long-term risk of complications.

“We must get better at offering education to people who are living with diabetes and help them to manage this serious, complex and often overwhelming condition. It is crucial that education is made available both at the point of diagnosis and beyond, as the education needs of people already living with the condition can change over time.

"Along with providing better and more flexible education options, local health systems need to focus on increasing the proportion of people getting the 15 healthcare essentials that everyone with diabetes should be receiving. Until we achieve these steps, we will continue to deny people living with diabetes of the best possible chance of living long and healthy lives."

This Diabetes Week, we are urging everyone with diabetes to seek out the support and education they need. Find out more atwww.diabetes.org.uk/diabetesweek, or search #DiabetesandMe on Twitter.

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