Diabetes prescriptions cost £1 billion in a year
Diabetes prescriptions are costing the NHS in England more than £1 billion a year, according to new figures from NHS Digital.
The total cost of the prescriptions has risen significantly – by more than £422 million – in the last 10 years and almost one in 20 GP prescriptions are now for diabetes treatment.
The biggest increases are seen in treatments for type 2 diabetes, which affects around 90 per cent of people.
Dr Campbell Murdoch, Chief Medical Officer at Diabetes Digital Media, said: “People with diabetes in England deserve the best care. These stats highlight the cost of diabetes care in the NHS. This means we need to prescribe better treatments that are much lower cost.
“GPs and nurses can now prescribe apps to patients. The Low Carb Program (www.lowcarbprogram.com) from Diabetes.co.uk is prescribable, with one in four patients placing their type 2 diabetes into remission. I see this as a win for patients and a win for the NHS.”
Robin Hewings, Head of Policy from Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes is the biggest threat to the health of our country. The number of people diagnosed with the condition has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is responsible for 26,000 early deaths per year alongside serious complications such as blindness, amputation or stroke.
“This data shows that diabetes prescribing costs £1bn, but it’s estimated that the total cost to the NHS is over £10bn a year so the real price we have to pay for diabetes is not medications, but the devastating and expensive complications.
That’s why we need to focus spending more money on helping people manage their diabetes well. The NHS needs to maintain its focus on diabetes in its Long Term Plan, and particularly to make sure that people receive the education, care and technologies to help them manage their condition safely.”
The NHS England figures also include the cost of devices used by people with diabetes to monitor their condition.
Nearly £477 million was spent on antidiabetic drugs in 2017-18. Over the same year, around £350 million was spent on insulin, and £181 million on diagnostic and monitoring devices.
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England, said: “Thanks to better diagnosis and treatment, the NHS is caring for more people than ever before with diabetes, and this new data highlights the urgent need to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place.
“The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has now reached over a quarter of a million people at high risk of type 2 diabetes.”
To read the report in full, click here.