The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has hit more than four million for the first time, according to new figures released by Diabetes UK.

The figures, which have been extracted from the latest GP patient data, show that there are now 4.05 million diabetes sufferers in the UK, an increase of 119,965 compared with the previous year.

As the number of people living with the condition increases, Diabetes UK is warning that diabetes treatment and education must become more of a priority.

According to the charity, only 60% of people with diabetes currently receive the eight checks published in the latest guidelines on diabetes care by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The purpose of the guidelines is to identify problems early on and avoid complications, such as amputation, kidney failure and blindness.

Around £10 million a year of the NHS’ budget is spent on diabetes care, with around 80% of this spent on avoidable health complications. More than 24,000 people die each year because of the inadequate management of their diabetes.

Gwen Kirby-Dent, a senior medical negligence solicitor in Thompsons Solicitors’ London office, said: “Diabetes is rapidly becoming one of the biggest threats to health in the UK and its growth doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.

“Thompsons has seen first-hand the traumatic effects of poor treatment, where diabetes patients have had to have limbs amputated, suffered reduced or loss of vision and in some cases have lost their lives, simply because vital checks have been missed.

"The NHS is suffering from unprecedented pressure on its services due to an ageing population and budget constraints and, by consequence, staff are overstretched. The government must seriously look to address this issue as it will save lives and treatment costs in the short, medium and long term.”