24,000 deaths: The cost of poor diabetes treatment

By Charles Maggs

Twenty-four- thousand people die prematurely each year because their diabetes has not been managed properly according to an influential committee of MPs.

Many others also suffer from other complications such as blindness and kidney disease – complications which could easily be avoided.

"The NHS spends at least £3.9 billion a year on diabetes services and around 80% of that goes on treating avoidable complications," chairman of the public accounts committee Margaret Hodge said.

"The number of people with diabetes is set to rise from 3.1 million to 3.8 million between now and 2020 and unless care improves significantly the NHS will face ever-increasing costs."

Hodge was speaking as the committee published its report into NHS treatment of diabetes patients in the UK.

The report was highly critical of the NHS's handling of diabetes sufferers, saying the organisation had "failed to hold commissioners of diabetes services to account for poor performance," and that the performance of eleven primary care trusts had gotten worse between 2006-2010.

"Fewer than one in five people with diabetes have the recommended levels of blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, leaving an unacceptably high number at risk of developing complications, being admitted to hospital and costing the NHS more money," she added.

There are nearly two and a half million diabetes sufferers in the UK, but it is believed that there are as many as 800,000 with the condition who have not been diagnosed – a figure which is expected to rise significantly in the years ahead.