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500 people with diabetes die prematurely every week


Our new analysis has shown that 500 people living with diabetes die prematurely every week in England and Wales, with many of these deaths being caused by avoidable complications.

This figure comes from analysis of the most recent NHS National Diabetes Audit report on complications and mortality, which also shows that men and women between the ages of 35 and 64 living with Type 1 diabetes are 3 to 4 times more likely to die prematurely than those without the condition. Men and women in the same age range with Type 2 diabetes are up to two times more likely to die prematurely.

The most common complications of diabetes which can lead to early death are strokes and cardiovascular disease. Every week in the UK, 680 people suffer a stroke as a complication of diabetes (one in five strokes is caused by diabetes), 530 people suffer a diabetes-related heart attack, and there are around 2,000 cases of diabetes-related heart failure. 

The devastating complications of diabetes, like amputations, sight loss, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease, some of which can lead to early death, are preventable if people are supported to manage their diabetes effectively.

Since 2017, the Diabetes Transformation Fund has invested more than £80 million in regions across England to improve the care people with diabetes receive, and help them manage their condition. 

We're calling on NHS England to continue its concerted action to improve the quality of local diabetes services beyond 2019, to curb the growing numbers of people dying prematurely because of diabetes. 

Chris Askew, our Chief Executive said:

“500 preventable, premature deaths each week is a harrowing statistic that highlights how serious diabetes can be. It’s vital that this seriousness is recognised, and that the NHS continues to fund improvements to diabetes care beyond 2019, as it has been doing through the Diabetes Transformation Fund.

“The importance of helping people with diabetes avoid preventable complications, which can often lead to death, cannot be overstated. If we want to reduce the number of people with diabetes dying early and unnecessarily the investment and work started in 2017 needs to be continued. Progress is being made and shouldn’t stop now, to ensure the benefits of transformation are fully realised.” 

The Diabetes Transformation Fund has been used to improve structured education for people with diabetes to help them manage their condition more effectively and improve achievement of treatment targets to reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease, kidney failure and stroke. It has also invested in improving access to multi-disciplinary foot care teams and reducing lengths of hospital stays by improving access to specialist diabetes inpatient teams.

We have lots of information to help you understand diabetes complications and how to avoid them.

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