The treatment of diabetes could bankrupt the NHS within 20 years.
A report in the journal Diabetic Medicine suggests that 80% of the £9.8 billion UK diabetes bill goes towards treating complications – many of which are avoidable.
It also suggests that by 2035, the condition will cost the NHS £16.8 billion – 17% of its entire budget.
Many of the complications occur when people with diabetes sustain high levels of glucose over a long period, the report says.
A focus on prevention, through encouraging healthier eating, and more health checks performed in primary care is key to tackling the disease and cutting costs, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.
The Impact Diabetes report was authored by the York Health Economic Consortium and developed in partnership between Diabetes UK, JDRF and Sanofi diabetes.
Ex-CQC chair Baroness Barbara Young, now chief executive Diabetes UK, and never one to shy away from an eye catching sound-bite, warned of a ‘car crash’ ahead: ‘The report shows that without urgent action, the already huge sums of money spent on treating diabetes will rise to unsustainable levels that threaten to bankrupt the NHS.
‘If this rise in diabetes is allowed to continue, as is happening at the moment, it will simply be disastrous for the NHS and wreck NHS budgets. I think we have a car crash coming.’
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: ‘This report has worrying implications for the future and will have a great impact on oral health services and providers.
‘Research shows that there is an increased prevalence of oral health problem among those with diabetes and the report findings emphasise the need and importance of preventive treatment and education.
‘Diabetics also need to take responsibility for their condition. By visiting a dentist on a regular basis, practicing good oral care, avoiding sugary foods and keeping blood sugars low can all help to prevent gum disease and alleviate future complications.’