It has 800 new sufferers a year in Doncaster - and health bosses are concerned.
Doctors have warned that the growing number of people with diabetes is ‘presenting new challenges’ to the NHS, and costing millions of pound to treat.
Yesterday, which was World Diabetes Day, health bosses at Doncaster Council revealed how 18,323 people in the town are currently being treated for the condition, with type two diabetes creating most of the burden with 17,172 diagnosed cases.
In a report submitted to the Doncaster Council Health and Wellbeing Board, Laurie Mott revealed concerns over the figures for the lifelong condition.
His also stated that bad health and deprivation were ‘significantly higher’ than average in Doncaster, suggesting a possible link.
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body can not use it properly. This is because the pancreas does not produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter its cells, or the insulin that is produced does not work properly.
Type one diabetes is far less common and occurs more in children, while type two is largely found in adults and can be attributed to factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, bad diet, alcohol or smoking. Side effects can include eye problems, foot problems, nerve damage and kidney disease.
Between 2011 and 2012 the Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group spent just over £7.5 million on diabetes prescriptions alone, and totted up hospital bills of £420,000 between March 2012 and 2013, caring for people newly diagnosed with the condition and people needing further treatment - prompting fears that the burden on the NHS may be too great to bear.
Dr John Hosker, consultant physician for diabetes at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals said: “In Doncaster there are currently around 18,659 people with type one and type two diabetes and this figure is rising, presenting new challenges for the NHS. People are living longer and becoming heavier which increases the likelihood of having diabetes.”
Jacqui Wiltschinsky, the council’s assistant director of public health says it was ‘very important’ to tackle the issue now by encouraging people to adopt healthier lifestyles.
She adds: “Our aim is to encourage people to look at their lifestyles as well as support those people with the condition.
“We look at educating people on diet and how to manage their condition and run a programme called Dottie (Doncaster’s Type Two (Diabetes) Informative Education). It helps people learn how to manage the condition.”
Six year old Emma Fawcett suffers from Type One diabetes, and was diagnosed with the condition two years ago.
Emma’s mum, Angela Fawcett, of Woodhouse Road, Wheatley, says she doesn’t think people realise how difficult living with diabetes can be.
She said: “The slightest thing can affect her and it’s very difficult to control. She needs to have at least four injections a day.”
While Angela, 36, is now adept at caring for someone with diabetes, she admits finding it difficult when Emma was first diagnosed.
She said: “When we first found out, I didn’t know what to do. I was a complete beginner.”
For World Diabetes Day Angela has helped to organise a blue fundraiser at Emma’s school, Sandringham Road, primary, which will see teachers and pupils don blue to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Last year, the mum of two spoke to children at the school about the condition and since then she has been inundated with questions from parents about diabetes and what to look out for,
She adds: “I’ll always help where I can. If you’re in any doubt about whether your child could have it, take them to a doctor straight away because at the end of the day you know your child better than anyone. Don’t ignore your instincts.”
Another one of the town’s sufferers is Coun Ted Kitchen, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes five years ago.
Due to taking part in an NHS programme at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, which helped improve his understanding of what a healthy diet consists of, Coun Kitchen, of Hall Villa Lane, Toll Bar, says he is healthier now than he was before being diagnosed .
“My doctor signed me and my wife up for this diet class at DRI, and the doctor put a load of food on the table and we had to guess what you could and couldn’t eat”, he said.
“It was surprising what was included in the list of things that had too much sugar.
“And since then my diet has completely changed. I have no sugar, no salt now and I feel much better for it.”
He added: “Before I was diagnosed I wasn’t feeling very well and I kept needing to go to the toilet. So I went to the doctors and had blood tests and they told me I had type two diabetes.
“It’s mainly under control, I’m on medication and I go to DRI once a year for a full check up where they test everything and make sure the condition isn’t getting worse.”
“My mobility has been affected by it because my feet feel numb all the time and I need to rub cream on my feet four times a day.
“I fall over quite a lot because of it.”
Some symptoms are common in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, which are:
• feeling very thirsty
• urinating frequently, particularly at night
• feeling very tired
• weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
Symptoms of type one diabetes can develop quickly, over weeks or even days. Symptoms include:
• Blurred vision that is caused by the lens of your eye changing shape
• Skin infections
The main symptoms of type two diabetes are due to high blood sugar. They include:
• Extreme thirst
• A dry mouth
• Blurred vision
• A need to pass urine frequently