NHS England spends over £1bn per year on diabetes prescriptions, data has revealed.

A report published yesterday (8 November) by NHS Digital showed that the cost of prescriptions for diabetes has grown by £422m in a decade, reaching more than £1bn in 2017/18.

Responding to the figures, NHS England national clinical director for diabetes and obesity Professor Jonathan Valabhji 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.’


Rising costs


NHS England spending on diabetes prescriptions has risen by £422m over the past 10 years, now accounting for 11% of all prescribing costs in primary care, according to NHS Digital.

The data showed that around 53 million items were prescribed for people with diabetes in 2017/18 at a total cost of £1.012bn.

Over the same period, almost £477m was spent on anti-diabetic medicines, £350m on insulin and £181m on diagnostic and monitoring devices.

But according to the charity Diabetes UK, the total cost is even higher, with spending reaching £10bn a year due to diabetes-related complications including blindness, amputation and stroke.


‘Biggest threat’


Diabetes UK estimated that more than three million people in England have diabetes. In the past 20 years, the number of diabetics has doubled, with the condition causing 26,000 early deaths every year, the charity said.

Diabetes UK head of policy Robin Hewings said: ‘Diabetes is the biggest threat to the health of our country.

‘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.’

In 2016, NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK launched the NHS diabetes prevention programme in a bid to help people at high-risk from developing type 2 diabetes.

Professor Valabhji said that the initiative has now reached more than a quarter of a million of people in this group category.