One in five patients at the Mayday University Hospital in Croydon are there because of diabetes. The programme illustrates the difficulties in treating young diabetics, as staff struggle to make them reconcile the seriousness of their condition with their lifestyle choices.
Diabetes is fast becoming the single biggest drain on NHS resources. Treating the disease and its complications currently costs £1 million every hour, using up to 10% of the NHS's annual budget, and figures are rising rapidly.
'There are 15 or 16,000 diabetics in Croydon, where I work' says Dr Richard Savine, who is treating more and more patients. 'As it is an awful lot of people who I end up taking ultimate responsibility for, I rarely think about it in those terms. I'd probably go mad if I started thinking about the size of the problem.'
Due to increasingly poor diet and a lack of exercise, type 2 diabetes is being picked up in increasingly young patients, so much so that a new diabetic is now diagnosed every three minutes in the UK. NHS workers like Dr Savine and his staff are dealing with potentially a ticking time bomb of young people who, at middle age, will have heart diseases and strokes, and need kidney transplants.
To target young diabetics, Dr Savine has set up a special monthly clinic. Each afternoon costs the Mayday approximately £10,000. But some patients frequently don't bother to show for their appointments. Patients like 15-year-old Francesca, who also doesn't always test her blood sugars for her type 1 diabetes, and was rushed to hospital in a diabetic coma brought on by a prolonged bout of binge-drinking. Despite this she says: 'I don't let my diabetes run my life. I do what I want to do, when I want to do it.'
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