MORE than 17,000 people in Worcestershire are suffering from diabetes, new figures have revealed.

Figures released by diabetic charity Diabetes UK showed there are 15,148 people in the county diagnosed with type one and type two diabetes and an estimated 2,561 are suffering from the condition but have not been diagnosed.

Overall 3.2 million adults in the UK suffer from diabetes, an increase of more than 163,000 from the previous year.

Figures for previous years in Worcestershire are not available due to the abolition of Primary Care Trusts.

The charity’s chief executive Barbara Young said the figures showed the UK was “in the middle of an unfolding public health disaster”.

“It is frightening to think that one in 17 people you walk past in the street has been diagnosed with the condition,” she said.

She said the charity is calling on NHS organisations across the UK to fully implement the NHS Health Check, which can ensure type 2 diabetes is diagnosed as quickly as possible. The charity also says the check should be offered for free to everyone aged between 40 and 74.

“We also need to address the obesity crisis, which is what is fuelling the increase in Type 2, by making healthy food cheaper and more accessible and by making it easier for people to build physical activity into their daily lives,” she said.

She said the charity is also campaigning for greater education on for those diagnosed with the disease and for improvements to hospital care for people with diabetes.

“The complications of diabetes are not only devastating for the people involved, but they are also very expensive to treat,” she said.

“With the number of people with diabetes continuing to rise, there is now an urgent need to grasp the nettle and start focusing on the ongoing care and support for self-management that can help prevent complications happening in the first place.

“Unless we do this, we are likely to see more people having to endure complications and an accompanying rise in diabetes spending that we will simply not be able to afford.”

The NHS currently spends 10 per cent of its entire budget on diabetes and 80 per cent of this goes to treating complications such as amputation, kidney failure, heart disease and strokes.