This week we will be shining a spotlight on diabetes by taking a closer look at the role community pharmacists play in medicating and managing the condition.

Today we look at the statistics that reveal the prevalence of diabetes in the UK population.

Coming up later this week: how can you start the conversation with patients to help them manage their condition?

Diagnosing Diabetes

The ongoing rise of chronic conditions is the health narrative of our times, but even against that backdrop, the statistics on diabetes have taken on a stark quality

In fact it is estimated that up to 80 per cent of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking steps to reduce risk of the condition

Medication reviews help to put dates in the diary to speak with clients about their diabetes, but it’s worth making it clear that you are always available to talk about it

Pharmacists are already well-versed in conversations on healthy lifestyles.

There are already 3.9 million people in the UK living with diabetes, of which 590,000 are people have Type 2 diabetes but as yet are undiagnosed. If current trends continue it is estimated that by 2025 there will be five million in the UK with diabetes. Our 135 shoes campaign earlier in 2015 highlighted the rising number of amputations taking place each week as a direct result of diabetes. And that’s just a fraction of the 200,000 diabetes-related complications people with the condition are suffering that also include heart attacks and strokes, making complications the most costly side of diabetes. No wonder that the condition now accounts for £10 billion of the NHS budget.

But the vast majority of these complications can be avoided – and with medicine, careful self-management and signposting proving to be crucial tools in the diabetic armoury, there’s a vital role for pharmacists to play.

What they should be getting

Diabetes is a much-misunderstood condition, so it’s well worth revisiting its basic facts. About 10 per cent of people with the condition have Type 1, which develops in childhood or adolescence, is not caused by weight or lifestyle in any way and cannot be prevented. People with Type 1 diabetes can’t produce insulin and so are treated with daily insulin doses that are delivered by injections or an insulin pump.

The vast majority of people with diabetes have Type 2. While some of the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes – family history, age and ethnic background – cannot be changed, many people can do something about the most important risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, which is being overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight through eating a healthy diet and regular physical activity are extremely important to reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. In fact it is estimated that up to 80 per cent of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking steps to reduce risk of the condition. Lifestyle changes are also key to managing Type 2, though for some people medication may also be required.

Regardless of type, every person living with diabetes should receive a personalised care plan designed around 15 healthcare essentials. These are nationally-agreed standards of care based on NICE guidance and Diabetes UK has campaigned tirelessly to make sure they are all delivered. However, the majority of people still aren’t receiving all 15.

But while it’s good for pharmacists to be aware of the 15-point checklist, and any signposting you can provide to make sure they all happen is a boon, we see the real strengths of pharmacists coming in helping people with diabetes to manage their condition on a day-to-day basis.

Come back tomorrow as we discuss medicating diabetes with Graham Philips, the superintendent pharmacist for the Manor Pharmacy Group.