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Diabetes is a lifelong condition that is caused by a person's body being unable to control glucose (sugar) correctly. This results in the amount of glucose in the blood becoming too high. To control glucose levels, the body (more specifically the pancreas) produces the hormone insulin, but if not enough insulin is produced, glucose levels can become too high. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common and occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body's cells don't react to insulin. Typically Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed in older people. Type 1 diabetes is less common and usually develops before the age of 40, often in teenage years. With Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin at all.

In 2016/17 6.8% of people registered with a GP in Gateshead were diagnosed with diabetes which is similar to the England average of 6.7% [Chart - Diabetes prevalence].[1] This means that 11,656 Gateshead people are known to have diabetes. The proportion of people with diabetes is gradually increasing. Since 2009/10 Gateshead has seen a year on year increase from 5.8% to its current level of 6.8%.

Diabetes prevalence

A model based on the prevalence of diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) captured in the Health Survey for England suggests that the prevalence of diabetes in 2012 may actually have been closer to 7.5% and anywhere up to 10.5% (upper confidence level)[2] - higher than the current 2013/14 figure of 6.5% diagnosed with diabetes. The model suggested that the prevalence could rise to 8.8% or anywhere up to 12.4% (upper confidence level) by 2030. There is obviously a degree of uncertainty to these synthetic estimates and projections, however it illustrates that many people may remain undiagnosed.

hospitalCauses of Type 2 diabetes include increasing levels of obesity, a lack of exercise, an increase in unhealthy diets and an ageing population. Symptoms include feeling very thirsty, passing urine more often than usual - particularly at night, feeling very tired and weight loss or loss of muscle bulk.

For those people diagnosed with diabetes it is important to control their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. In NewcastleGateshead CCG area, 42.1% of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes achieved all three treatment targets for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. This is better than the England average of 41.1%. [Chart - People with type 2 diabetes achieving all 3 treatment targets] However, of those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, only 17.9% achieved all three treatment targets, compared to the England average of 19.0%. [Chart - People with type 1 diabetes achieving all 3 treatment targets].[3]

In terms of treatment, Newcastle Gateshead CCG is achieving good value for money as illustrated by the high outcomes being achieved (number of people with an HbA1c - glycated haemoglobin level - of 59mmol/mol or less) compared to relatively low total expenditure on diabetes prescribing.[4]


[1] QOF Prevalence, HSCIC 2016/17 (NHS Health Check website)

[2] Diabetes Prevalence Model, National Diabetes Information Service - national cardiovascular intelligence network, 2012 based (YHPHO website or Diabetes website)

[3] HSCIC diabetes achievement of all 3 treatment targets, National Diabetes Audit, 2016/17 (Diabetes website)

[4] Diabetes Outcomes Versus Expenditure (DOVE) Tool, National Diabetes Information Service - national cardiovascular intelligence network, 2014/15 (YHPHO website)

Last modified on 4th July 2018

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