BBC Inside Out investigates the epidemic of diabetes in the NHS

As things stand we are certainly looking at a crisis in diabetes which threatens to bankrupt the NHS if we continue with these current trends.Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK
Date: 20.10.2016     Last updated: 21.10.2016 at 12.06
BBC regional current affairs programme Inside Out takes a close look at the diabetes epidemic that is sweeping the country and threatening to overwhelm the NHS.

The programme speaks to doctors, dieticians and patients from every corner of England about the growing crisis that could push local health services to breaking point. 

In its Diabetes special, airing on Monday 24 October at 7.30pm on BBC One, health correspondent Dominic Hughes hears from the man who ignored his diagnosis for 20 years and has now had three toes amputated, and the 16 year-old who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after eating too many sweets and fizzy drinks.

New data provided by Public Health England given exclusively to Inside Out also shows how hard the spiralling costs of diabetic care will hit the NHS if the nation’s obesity continues to rise.

Reporting locally, all 11 regions across the country will look at the steps being taken in their area to tackle type 2 diabetes and the complications that account for 80 percent of the health costs.

In Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, health correspondent Jamie Coulson visits Bradford, the city thought to have the highest proportion of diabetes sufferers per head of population. He meets the people behind a pioneering project, Bradford Beating Diabetes, which is testing everyone in the city over 40 – and in the case of Asian residents, everyone over 25 – to try to identify those in need of prevention programmes.

With nearly 100,000 diabetes sufferers in the South East, Inside Out finds out what special efforts are being made in the region to tackle the disease. Medway has been chosen as a demonstrator area for the NHS diabetes prevention programme, and Inside Out finds out about its award-winning education classes keeping blood sugar levels down for those who attend.

In the North East, Inside Out meets Middlesbrough-born X factor finalist Amelia Lily, who explains how she controls her type 1 diabetes. They also visit Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University who claims it’s possible to reverse type 2 diabetes by following a strict diet of 800 calories a day.

Around 4.5 million people in the UK now have diabetes* and the number is continuing to rise. Most of them have type 2 which is linked to obesity and so largely preventable. Diabetic care is already costing the NHS £10 billion a year, nearly 10 percent of its entire budget.**

Experts warn the predicted rise in preventable diabetes is putting huge strain on health service finances. With increasing numbers of young people now being diagnosed, the health service is facing a ticking time bomb.

Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, Chris Askew, says: “As things stand we are certainly looking at a crisis in diabetes which threatens to bankrupt the NHS if we continue with these current trends.

“I believe we’re facing a crisis and we really need concerted action right across society for us to fund more research, provide best possible care and crucially prevent so many cases of type 2 – in future.”

Urgent action is vital according to the National Clinical Director for Obesity and Diabetes at NHS England. Professor Jonathan Valabhji says: “We need to stem the tide otherwise we could see a crisis and there are issues of sustainability for the NHS if we do nothing differently.”

Elsewhere in the regions, Jenny Waldron, reporting for the South and South West, investigates whether enough is being done to prevent the terrible toll of lost limbs and altered lives. In the South West, she also hears the shocking story of a type 2 diabetic who – frightened he would lose a whole leg – refused an NHS operation and amputated his own toes in the garden shed with a pair of surgical steel pliers.

Inside Out North West finds out why type 2 diabetes is up to six times more common in the South Asian community than the general UK population. Dianne Oxberry hears from a restaurant on Manchester’s curry mile that is taking action and trying to educate people, by providing alternative diabetes-friendly recipes for its favourite dishes.

In an authored film for Inside Out West, David MacAuslan, from Taunton, explains how he lost eight stone in eight months to put his diabetes into remission. Talking candidly about the depression during his diabetes, he gives a speech to recently diagnosed diabetes sufferers and visits a Diabetes UK roadshow where they assess members of the public for their risk.

Inside Out’s Diabetes Special airs on Monday 24 October on BBC One at 7.30pm across all 11 regions, and will be available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days.

Notes to Editors

*Source: Diabetes UK
**Source: York Health Economic Forum