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Meeting Type 2 treatment targets could save NHS millions

Funding research. Changing lives.

Helping people with Type 2 diabetes to meet their three treatment targets could lead to significant savings for the NHS. That's according to research we have supported from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford. It would also help people with Type 2 live longer, healthier lives.

NHS England could save as much as £727 million over 10 years if all people with Type 2 diabetes over the age of 20 in England and Wales met their three target treatments. The three treatment targets which are set by NICE focus on:

  • blood glucose
  • blood pressure
  • cholesterol levels

There are currently over 3 million people living with Type 2 diabetes in England and Wales. But just 39.8% of them meet all three of their treatment targets. 

The research showed that meeting treatment targets lowered people's risk of diabetes-related complications. This then leads to significant savings and helps people with diabetes live longer, healthier lives. It suggests that meeting the three targets could reduce the cost of treating complications by £1,037 per patient over 10 years. But it should be noted these savings do not factor in the potential costs involved in helping people to meet additional treatment targets. 

NHS England currently spends approximately £10 billion every year on treating diabetes in all its forms. Most of this is spent on treating complications which include sight loss, heart attacks, strokes and nerve damage. This figure is likely to increase as the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes continues to rise. The number of people living with the condition has doubled in the last 20 years. 

Mi Jun Keng, a researcher at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and lead author of the paper, said:

“Meeting all three treatment targets reduces the costs to the NHS of treating complications by about £1000 per patient. This could lead to substantial savings for the NHS considering the high and increasing prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in England and Wales.”

Nikki Joule, Policy Manager at Diabetes UK, said:

“This research shows just how much could be saved if all people with Type 2 diabetes over the age of 20 were helped to meet all of their NICE-defined treatment targets. Currently, fewer than 2 in 5 meet all three, and this needs to change.

“We hope these findings categorically demonstrate to healthcare commissioners that there are significant economic benefits in improving the support people with Type 2 diabetes receive to help them manage their condition.

“It’s vital that all people with diabetes are given the support they need to meet as many of their treatment targets as possible.  This will help people with diabetes live longer, healthier lives and could also save money for our already stretched NHS.”

The research shows that meeting all three treatment targets leads to an additional 1.5 years of healthy life per patient due to a reduced risk of complications. 

Professor Borislava Mihaylova, the senior author of the paper, noted:

“Our study shows that if the 10% lowest performing GP practices (with about a quarter of their patients meeting the targets) were to reach the target levels achieved by the top 10% performing GP practices (with about half of patients meeting the targets), they would realise an average gain of 30 years of life for every 100 patients or 3.6 months per patient. These benefits would more than double if they could get all their patients to meet all three treatment targets.”

While the research focuses on three treatment targets, it's important to remember that people with diabetes are also entitled to their 15 healthcare essentials. These are a set of essential health checks that anyone living with diabetes can get for free on the NHS. They include blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, as well as others like foot and eye screenings

This research was supported by one of our research grants. The study authors, working in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, also received support from the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. The study was designed, executed and reported independently from all sources of funding.

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