Defusing the £10billion Diabetes timebomb

Community pharmacy reveals findings from 10 years of diabetes data

Ten years of diabetes data published today shows the true extent of the diabetes public health challenge. Data sourced from 1.5 million people screened by LloydsPharmacy for Type 2 diabetes over the last 10 years shows a 31% increase in those found to be ‘at risk’ of developing the condition, including a 17% rise in younger adults.

The community pharmacy also found that many people with diabetes are experiencing serious health complications. In a sample of 200,000 LloydsPharmacy diabetes patients (30,000 Type 1 and 170,000 Type 2), 82% of people with Type 1 and 70% of people with Type 2 had at least one other serious health condition related to their diabetes¹.

Compiled to mark the tenth anniversary of the LloydsPharmacy Type 2 screening service, the Diabetes Decade report finds that inconsistencies in patient knowledge and support made available to them is leading to ineffective condition management, which in turn can lead to other conditions developing. Other risks include the blood supply to the feet being limited which can cause a loss of feeling and serious foot problems. LloydsPharmacy’s new foot check advice service for diabetes patients was used by over 30,000 people in the first two weeks of it being available².

Additional research* by the community pharmacy found that common management issues showed:

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of people with Type 2 diabetes and a tenth (9%) of people with Type 1 never check the sensitivity of their feet and fingers
  • 63% of people with Type 1 diabetes have left the house without adequate supplies of vital equipment or medication, including 37% without insulin
  • Over a third of people (36%) with Type 2 diabetes stated they had intentionally not taken their diabetes medicine or insulin in the last week. This figure was less for those with Type 1 (11%)

The research also found that more than a third (35%) of people with Type 1 diabetes – which is not caused by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise – have been hospitalised because of their condition. For those with Type 2 diabetes, it was 6%.

The National Health Service spends around one tenth (£10 billion in 2011) of its total budget on diabetes and related complications.³ However without the provision of pharmacy-based initiatives this would be much higher. For example, had the NHS carried out the 1.5million Type 2 assessment checks conducted by LloydsPharmacy, it is estimated that this would have increased this spend by £18.5million⁴.

Professor Martin Stevens, one of the UK’s leading diabetes experts from University of Birmingham said: “It is not overstating the case that diabetes is one of the biggest challenges that a multicultural UK faces. A different strategy is needed and the good news is that one is slowly emerging. Early identification of individuals at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or in the early stages of the disease is vital to reduce complications which have such a huge impact on both the individual and the state.

“A quiet revolution is emerging in diabetes care, which has shifted the emphasis from the reliance on the GP surgery and hospital outpatient clinic alone to a community-based service which includes pharmacy-based care.”

Alison Freemantle, diabetes specialist pharmacist, LloydsPharmacy, commented: “The data from our service has shown that more emphasis must be placed on providing education and support to help people manage their condition for the long term.

“As well as facilitating early diagnosis of Type 2, pharmacy is well placed to take on wider responsibilities as an extension of the diabetes support network. It therefore makes absolute sense to better utilise this resource as the government battles with the growing diabetes challenge.”

Evidence suggests that pharmacy-based management strategies such as those provided by LloydsPharmacy can go some way to support the specialist medical care required to manage diabetes5. The free LloydsPharmacy Type 2 diabetes screening service is available in over 1500 pharmacies across the UK.

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*Onepoll research conducted June 2013 with 100 people with Type 1 and 100 people with Type 2 diabetes

  1. Anonymous LloydsPharmacy prescription data from 200,000 patents with diabetes, May 2012 –April 2013
  2. The LloydsPharmacy Foot Check Service was launched in June 2013 with more than 30,000 people with diabetes receiving advice on how to check their feet within the first two weeks
  3. State of the Nation 2012, Diabetes UK
  4. Calculated using figures from NICE document: Preventing Type 2 diabetes: Risk identification and interventions for individuals at high risk – Costing report July 2012
  1. Ali M, Schifano F, Robinson P et al. Impact of community pharmacy diabetes monitoring and education programme on diabetes management: a randomized controlled study Diabet.Med. 2012;29(9):e326-e333.

The Diabetes Decade is a joint report utilising LloydsPharmacy screening data from the last ten years, the University of Birmingham’s Professor Martin Stevens’ expert analysis and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s future projections and costs for society.