Following on from our blog last week - The Staggering Cost of Diabetes - new figures from Diabetes UK show a rise of almost 60 per cent in the number of people with the condition in the UK in the last 10 years.
The charity says the NHS risks bankruptcy unless it does more to prevent the disease, and treats people who are already suffering from it.
Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, Barbara Young, said: "Over the past decade, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has increased by over 1 million, which is the equivalent of the population of a small country such as Cyprus.
"With a record number of people now living with diabetes in the UK, there is no time to waste - the Government must act now.
"We need to see more people with diabetes receiving the eight care processes recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.) It is unacceptable that a third of people living with the condition do not currently get these, putting them at increased risk of developing complications, such as amputations, heart attack or stroke."
Ms Young said diabetes already costs the NHS nearly £10bn a year, and she called on it to give priority to providing better care and improved education.
"Until then, avoidable human suffering will continue and the costs of treating diabetes will continue to spiral out of control and threaten to bankrupt the NHS. Now is the time for action," she said.
The Diabetes UK figures speak for themselves:
- 3.9 million people in the UK have the disease; that is the highest ever
- Estimates suggest another 590 thousand people have undiagnosed type-2 diabetes
- By 2025 - just 10 years away - there could be as many as 5 million diabetes patients in the UK.
Unlike the more serious type-1 form of diabetes, many cases of type-2 can be prevented. Exercise and healthy eating can mean the difference between suffering, even amputation in the worst cases, and living a virtually normal life. Please click here for advice from the NHS for people living with type-2 diabetes.
Diabetes UK says the NHS must offer better education and support at the point of diagnosis, and beyond. The charity warned that failure to act could cost the NHS billions of pounds and reduce the lifespan of thousands of people.