THE number of people with diabetes in Swindon is set to rise by 2,400 at the end of the decade, according to a charity, which warns the nation is heading for a health crisis over the disease.
Nationally, it says, the figure is set to rise by 700,000 by 2020, with a total of 4.4m people in England, Scotland and Wales projected to have the condition in the next eight years.
The analysis by charity Diabetes UK, based on data from the Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory, shows it would be an increase of almost a fifth and the equivalent of adding almost the combined populations of Liverpool and Newcastle to the current total.
The majority of the extra 700,000 cases would be Type 2 diabetes, which can often be prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes and losing weight. Incidence of Type 1 diabetes, which is not linked to lifestyle, is also rising but scientists do not know why.
Diabetes UK has warned that the cost of providing healthcare for the extra 700,000 people would put great financial pressure on the NHS, which is already spending 10 per cent of its budget on treating the condition.
The charity is now calling for more resources to be put towards preventing Type 2 diabetes and wants the Government to fund a public health campaign to raise awareness of risk factors and of the seriousness of diabetes.
Graham Cooper, Diabetes UK South West regional manager, said: “The healthcare system is at breaking point in terms of its ability to provide care for people with diabetes and many people are developing health complications that could have been avoided and are dying early.
“Because of this, I have fears about the impact of an extra 700,000 people with diabetes. “We face the real prospect of the rise in the number of people with the condition combining with NHS budget pressures to create a perfect storm that threatens to bankrupt the NHS.
“But the Government and the NHS do not seem to have grasped the scale of the impending crisis. “The crucial point is that it is still not too late to take the action needed to avert it.
“We need a Government-funded campaign to raise awareness of risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. This will give proper support to those at high risk, and to highlight the the condition.
“That way people can understand why they should be doing everything they can to prevent it. We need to act now.”
In July, more than 100 people in Swindon were identified as at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes thanks to the Healthy Lifestyle Roadshow by Diabetes UK and Bupa.
Thes how aimed to identify some of the 1,900 people in the town who have Type 2 diabetes but are unaware. Visit www.diabetes.org.uk.