A Call for National Diabetes Strategy

June 22 2016  
Press Release


Diabetes Ireland calls for implementation of National Diabetes strategy
with multi-year resource plan

Today, Diabetes Experts briefed TDs and Senators on the need for extra resources to help them cope with the increasing numbers of people with diabetes.

Professor Hilary Hoey, Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist & Diabetes Ireland Chairperson said “we have worked with the HSE for a number of years to develop strategies for paediatric and adult diabetes services. In December 2015, the then Minister for Health launched a new strategy which put forward a strong platform on which to build a high quality service with equity, local access and support for all children with Type 1 diabetes and their families, regardless of where they live in Ireland. As yet, we have seen no progress on implementing this strategy. We still see many children not getting access to insulin pump therapy, which is now recognised as being the best therapy for managing the condition, because there is no nurse available in the hospital to educate them on how to use and maximise the technology to most effectively manage their diabetes. We know the technology is there but our children cannot access it without in-depth training which is very frustrating”

Speaking at the event, Dr Nuala Murphy, Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist, Temple Street Hospital & National Clinical Lead in Paediatric Diabetes said “Right now, consultant paediatric endocrinologists are urgently required in Limerick, Galway and in the South East of the country. In Dublin, paediatric diabetes services are overflowing with insufficient clinic capacity to deliver high quality care. We have a shortfall of consultants, nurses and dietitians in each of our Dublin hospitals and with the new Children’s Hospital pending, planning for these posts needs to happen now”.

TDs were informed that not a lot of extra resources were required for this. At present, 10% of the health budget is spend on diabetes annually with 60% of that spent on dealing with diabetes related complications. “ If 0.4% (€5m) of that annual spend was re-directed towards funding the paediatric diabetes strategy, huge financial savings from preventing diabetes related complications would be accrued in future years” added Dr Murphy.

TDs also heard from people living with Type 1 diabetes who also face barriers to insulin pump therapy, regular appointments and ongoing support. Ms Davina Lyon from Kildare and living with Type 1 diabetes said “I manage my condition as best I can each day with the support of my hospital team. I thought I was doing ok yet I recently received some bad news in relation to a developing complication of diabetes. I am upset because I cannot get an insulin pump to improve my management as there is currently no training nurse in my hospital centre”.

Dr Ronan Canavan, Consultant Endocrinologist, St Vincent’s & Loughlinstown Hospitals said “we have the costed strategies for paediatric, adult Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes that will address health inequalities, quality of life and health service planning to minimise expenditure and maximise patient care.

There is a lot of talk about a 10 year health strategy with cross-party agreement. Diabetes is costing the government €1.3 billion this year and over €800 million of that will be spent on dealing with the complications of diabetes. We, as diabetes experts know that we can reduce the staggering amount spent on complications each year. In the past few years, the diabetes community has worked with the HSE in reducing the cost of diabetes medications and devices, making financial savings. We need those savings reallocated to providing the manpower resources outlined to cope with the rising numbers and to encourage more effective daily management and better health outcomes. We need a multi-annual resource commitment to achieve this, rather than the annual “cap in hand” approach we all go through to try and get a few additional posts each year. In time, we will then see a reduction in annual diabetes complications spending which will be good for the exchequer and more importantly quality of life”.

Frank O’Rourke TD said “I am delighted along with my colleague Mary Butler TD to facilitate this opportunity for Diabetes Ireland today. Obviously, the diabetes community has really come together and developed plans to cope with the rising prevalence of diabetes. It makes absolute sense to me, as a public representative, to consider multi-annual investment and stem the €800m annual spend on avoidable diabetes complications. ENDS.




Editors Notes


For further information and interviews with commentators, contact Joan Moloney on 01 842 8118.


Diabetes Ireland is the national charity dedicated to providing support, education and motivation to all people affected by diabetes. It also raises public awareness of diabetes and its symptoms and funds Irish-based research into diabetes.


People living with Type 1 Diabetes also spoke with TDs today. They were Davina Lyon (Kildare), Elizabeth Murphy (Waterford), Grainne Flynn (Clare) and Rebecca Flanagan, mother of a teen with Type 1 Diabetes (Clare)


General Cost of Diabetes

  • The cost of diabetes care makes up a substantial proportion of national health expenditure.
  • The Irish CODEIRE study suggested the annual cost of treating diabetes in Ireland consumes 6.4% of the annual health expenditure.  UK data suggests diabetes consumes 10% of the NHS expenditure.
  • Over 60% of the expenditure is spent on the complications of diabetes – many of which could be prevented with appropriate resourced care.
  • Diabetes is the commonest cost of blindness in working age adults, renal failure and dialysis, lower limb amputation and significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • The annual cost of care for patients with a microvascular or a macrovascular complication are 1.8 and 2.9 times the cost of treating those without clinical evidence of complications.
  • The annual cost of care if a patient has both micro- and macrovascular complications, over 20% of patients with diabetes will have both, is 3.8 times the cost of treating patients with no complications
  • Many diabetes related complications are preventable, therefore it would appear a cost-effective approach for the government to invest in the prevention of diabetes related complications.


References: CODEIRE Study, Making Diabetes Count