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Panorama’s “The Hidden Killer’ on the Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic

Panorama’s “The Hidden Killer’ on the Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic
Posted on October 05, 2016
Archive : October 2016
Category : Blog

Panorama screened a programme on Monday night called ‘The Hidden Killer’ based on 6 months spent in Birmingham’s Heartland Hospital which specialises in diabetic care, and Birmingham’s Children Hospital.

This programme was not for the faint hearted, not only in terms of visually what was screened but also in terms of the horrifying statistics it revealed e.g. Birmingham itself has the highest incidence of diabetes in the UK – 1 in 10 people are diabetic.

Diabetes sufferers account for 3 times the number of all cancers added together.                        

These are scary figures.

Children are now being diagnosed with Type 2, which 16 years ago was unheard of in the UK. Now there are 500 cases in the UK. These children have a lifetime of balancing blood sugars ahead of them as well as dealing with complications that come with the disease like eye, kidney and foot disease. They will encounter these earlier than you would expect, so will have to potentially deal with blindness, amputations and kidney disease much earlier in life than in previous generations.

This disease is largely preventable, lifestyle changes through diet and exercise could turn this epidemic around.  For example, 9 out of 10 Type 2 sufferers are overweight or obese. This has to be a huge part of the education programme that needs to to take place.

There was a significant part of the programme that dealt with amputations. Not just the statistics, the real life drama of being in a position where your diabetic foot, which has no feeling, has been badly burnt by overnight contact with a radiator (which was not felt), and 3 weeks later, is having to be amputated to save your life. The coverage was quite graphic but really brought the reality of amputations to life.

We have heard the statistics of 135 amputations a week due to diabetes. These are horrifying enough but when you actually see what this operation entails, physically and emotionally, it really makes you think. Not only does the person risk his life having the operation to start with, they lose part of a limb and the ability to walk out of hospital. They need to relearn how to walk with a prosthetic leg or worse than that, lose their mobility depending on the severity of the amputation or amputations and age of the patient.  That is the cost to the patient – their life changes forever.

The cost to the NHS is another story:-

£1 Billion per year is spent on foot ulcers and amputations due to Type 2 Diabetes.

This is almost 1% of the total yearly NHS budget

Cost of an amputation is £18,000 and the cost of rehabilitation is £20,000

In the UK alone 4 million people have Type 2 Diabetes and there is estimated another 1 million that do not know they have the disease so it is quietly destroying the body it is living in.

Education, awareness, prevention, tighter restrictions on our processed foods and more resource are needed to deal quickly and efficiently with this hidden killer.

As John Westwood (who sadly lost his foot through complications due to diabetes) said on the programme, ‘ if you have diabetes, keep on top of it – if not you end up like this.’ Wise words and words that we as a nation need to heed. We need to be on top of diabetes and in control of it rather than it controlling us….

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