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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Northern Ireland diabetes prevalence hits nearly 112,000

Woman with blood sugar monitor on arm

New figures released by the Department of Health highlight diabetes as the third most prevalent health condition in Northern Ireland, with just under 112,000 cases registered across the five healthcare Trusts.

 

Taking into account patients aged 17 and above, the data reinforces fears of a rapidly escalating diabetes crisis, a concern recently shared by leading diabetes charity, Diabetes UK.



A breakdown of the data across all Trust areas is as follows; Belfast – 23,681, Northern – 29,212, South-eastern – 18,861, Southern, 21,567 and Eastern – 17,485.

 

Prevalence reporting has been in place for almost 20 years, with the 2022/2023 figures highlighting that diabetes diagnoses have more than doubled since then.

 

Diabetes UK Northern Ireland National Director, Tina McCrossan, said:


“Diabetes is an incredibly tough and relentless condition which has a huge impact on people’s lives, regardless of what type it may be. These new figures unfortunately highlight the growing crisis of diabetes prevalence in Northern Ireland.



"Year on year, the number of cases of all types of diabetes is growing at an alarming rate, yet we believe this condition and its impact continue to be massively underestimated.

 

“As we know, diabetes is the third most prevalent condition however, for the first time, these figures have also shone a light on patients registered with prediabetes, which sits at 66,009. Regrettably, when these two figures are combined, they push cases of diabetes and prediabetes up to nearly 180,000 and therefore, the second most prevalent condition seen in patients locally. To put that into perspective, this combined figure is the equivalent to 12 times the full capacity crowds that was seen at Belsonic recently.”

 


Whilst treatment costs for diabetes can be difficult to quantify, it is estimated to be approximately £1million per day – accounting for 10% of the local health and social care budget.

 

Tina continued:


“Whilst we recognise we can’t do anything at this time to prevent type 1 diabetes, we know that there are measurable steps that can be taken to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. We hear political parties call for a financial package in the context of a very difficult budgetary situation and ahead of the potential return of the Executive this autumn.

 


“If this is the case, we call on our elected representatives to push for increased investment towards diabetes care and prevention, in a bid to help tackle this growing crisis. The alarming prediabetes figures reinforce the urgent need to reduce the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes each year. It is our view, that with appropriate investment, we could not only see real change in outcomes for people living with and at risk of type 2 diabetes, but also provide significant savings for the health service which is under increasing pressure. In turn, such savings could be reinvested to ensure that all people living with diabetes have access to the care and support they need, when they need it.”

 

Knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for in relation is vitally important, if you spot any of the following signs, contact your doctor immediately:


  • Toilet – needing to use the toilet more often, especially at night.

  • Thirsty – being constantly thirsty and not being able to quench it.

  • Tired – being incredibly tired and having no energy.

  • Thinner – losing weight without trying to or looking thinner than usual.



To learn more about Diabetes UK Northern Ireland’s calls for the prioritisation of diabetes care and prevention in transforming our health service, visit www.diabetes.org.uk/in_your_area/n_ireland. Here you will also find further support and guidance offered by Diabetes UK in Northern Ireland. If you have a question about diabetes, contact the helpline on 0345 123 2399.

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