Joe's Diabetes

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Diabetes, Healthcare and the General Election 2015


Well, so there it is.

After five years in Government, six weeks of campaigning, and a late night (for me) the Conservatives have somehow defied all the polls and have won a small majority in Parliament. 

What this actually ends up meaning for the NHS and social care remains to be seen, but if previous Governments are anything to go by then we are in for turbulent times. 

Top-down reorganisation has been disastrous for healthcare professionals, and that's impacted on patients with long-term conditions like diabetes. The less empowered a medic is to do their job, the less time and resources they're given, and the more targets they have to hit, the more frustrated they become. This feeling is infectious and unconsciously gets transmitted to patients in clinics, putting further strain on a relationship in which medics have their traditional authority undermined (after all, who is the day-to-day physician for a diabetic?) This relationship is crucial to making sure people get proper treatment and can lead healthy lives. 

Let alone the terrible stories you hear of people having kidney disease, blindness, and amputations thanks to their diabetes going out of control, here's something the Government should understand. Money.

Diabetes already accounts for about 10% of the NHS budget: roughly £10bn a year. It is a phenomenal amount of money, roughly half the total current Government expenditure on Transport. 80% of this cost is due to the complications people get when their disease is not well-managed. One operation for a foot amputation alone is estimated to cost around £17,000.

More and more people are getting diabetes: now over 3.2 million people have it in the UK, and that's projected to grow to 5 million in ten years time. Think of the costs now, with 'only' 3.2 million diabetics and a stretched health service. Do we really want to see where cuts and further political measures take us in a decade?

We need to give everyone involved with treating diabetes as much support as possible. That goes for the professionals as much as the patients managing it everyday. If we don't help the doctors, then who will help the patients? And if the patients can't manage the disease well, then the rest of the country will end up paying for it.