Increase in diabetes sufferers

NEW figures reveal one in nine hospital beds in Gladstone are occupied by people with diabetes.

Analysis of data from Queensland Health shows more than half a million bed days across Queensland are devoted to diabetes and its complications each year.

In Gladstone, this equates to 1519 bed days, which means that diabetes patients could completely fill the hospital for 40 days each year.

Bed days include both overnight and same day patients such as renal dialysis patients who can occupy a renal chair for up to six hours.

Diabetes is now the number one avoidable hospitalisation in Queensland, outstripping other conditions such as the flu and asthma.

According to the Federal Government, more than 30 per cent of preventable hospital admissions in Australia related to diabetes and its complications in 2007/08.

There were 411 diabetes-related admissions to the Gladstone Base Hospital in 2008/9.

Based on the current average cost for these admissions, diabetes is conservatively projected to cost Gladstone at least $24 million over the next 10 years. This does not take into account projected increases in health care costs or the growth in the number of people with the disease.

Releasing the figures as part of National Diabetes Week, Diabetes Australia – Queensland chief executive officer Michelle Trute said diabetes was the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia and could not be ignored.

“Unfortunately while most disease rates are on the decline, diabetes rates are increasing,” Ms Trute said.

“New cases of diabetes have tripled in the last 20 years and are projected to triple again in the next 20 years. And while death rates for diabetes have increased by more than 60 per cent, death rates for heart disease have gone down.”

The figures come as a new study shows diabetes is low on the radar for Queenslanders.

A staggering 90 per cent were not concerned about getting type 2 diabetes.

“Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and the driver of premature death and serious complications including heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, blindness and amputation” said Ms Trute.

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