People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are all too often told ‘you can’t’. There are many myths surrounding diabetes that can get in the way, and this Diabetes Week we want to focus on the positive stories of people overcoming the challenges to change ‘you can’t’ into ‘I can’, says Barbara Young, Chief Executive, Diabetes UK.

Theresa May and Steve Redgrave are perhaps the most famous examples of people with diabetes who have not let their condition hold them back. But beyond them, there are countless men, women, and children who have the condition but overcome hurdles every day. I am really proud that we are celebrating them.

But while ordinary people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can and do achieve extraordinary
things, we also need to recognise that we still hear too many stories from people with diabetes about the barriers put in their way.

 

Healthcare essentials

The most obvious thing is the healthcare system. The NHS needs to do a better job in diagnosing people earlier and ensuring that once people have been diagnosed they get the education and healthcare they need. Everyone with diabetes should receive the 15 Healthcare Essentials to keep their condition well managed and reduce the risk of devastating complications.

By 2025 5 million people are expected to have diabetes in the UK

 

Preventing complications

It’s not a question of not enough funding for diabetes treatment as the NHS is already spending £10billion. But 80 per cent of this goes on complications, many of which could have been prevented if the person had got the right care in the first place.

Of course, these complications, which include amputations, blindness, kidney failure and stroke, are not only expensive to treat but they are personally devastating for the person involved and one of the main reasons why every year in the UK more than 20,000 people with diabetes die before their time.

 

Rising numbers, rising costs

There are 3.8 million people with diabetes in the UK, and the sharp rise in numbers we have seen over the last decade is showing no signs of slowing down.

In fact, by 2025 5 million people are expected to have the condition in the UK and the cost of the condition is projected to rise from £10billion to £17billion within 20 years. It is clear that, given the financial pressures on the NHS, this is an increase that is unsustainable.

 

Diabetes support in the future

The challenge of diabetes is undoubtedly huge. But with better patient care and support to help people to look after themselves, we can have better health at a lower cost. We can bring about change, and this is why it’s important that this Diabetes Week we campaign for everyone with diabetes to have access to the support and care that they need to have the best possible chance of a long, healthy life.