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Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 18:56 GMT
Hidden billions spent on diabetes

Diabetic complications can lead to hospital
Caring for the UK's type II diabetics costs the health service 2bn a year, according to a report by an economic think tank.

The King's Fund says that too much is being spent on dealing with the complications of the type II disease, and not enough trying to prevent it.

Many diabetes do not control their condition well
But a member of an influential GP diabetes committee says that there is no simple answer that will cut the costs of treating the condition.

The TARDIS survey showed that 4.7% of the total expenditure of the NHS is spent on type II diabetes.

This is the most common form of the disease, and, unlike type I diabetes, which generally starts at a younger age, normally develops later in life.

It can sometimes be controlled by change of diet and regular exercise, but more commonly requires medication.

Complications include circulation problems, which can lead to ulceration of the extremities - and may lead to loss of limbs if circulation is very poor.

Heart disease risk

Type II diabetics are also at increased risk of coronary heart disease, kidney disease and eye problems.

The survey found that on average, a diagnosed type II diabetic will spend six days a year as an in-patient in hospital.

Studies have shown that using antidiabetic medication can reduce the risk of developing complications.

Only 2% of the total NHS diabetes bill, however, was being spent on drugs, the survey calculated.

Steve Gillam, director of primary care at the King's Fund, said: "The government must take this new evidence on board and promote early, more intensive intervention in type II diabetes to prevent complications."

The chief executive of the British Diabetic Association, Paul Streets, echoed this, saying: "Investment in prevention of complications, rather than treatment, is the key to improving patients' lives."

However London GP Matthew Kiln, himself a diabetic, and a member of the British Diabetic Association's primary care committee, said: "It's so difficult to know how to cut down the number of complications.

"It requires a lot of money to be spent on extra nurses to run clinics.

"I'm not sure we can prevent that many people having to go to hospital because they are really sick.

"The compliance rate with medication is only about 50 to 70% - that's a real problem."

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05 Jun 99 | Health
Diabetic care 'inadequate'
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