The UK’s most deprived areas have the highest number of patients per population receiving diabetes medication, the latest prescribing figures show.

The NHS Business Services Authority’s (NHSBSA) report found that in areas of the greatest deprivation, 8.6% of people are on medication for the condition, compared to 3.4% of people in the least deprived areas.

It also found that the number of patients receiving diabetes medication and treatment reduces as the level of deprivation decreases.

This pattern was repeated when looking at the percentage of the population on antidiabetic drugs, with 7.5% receiving this medication in the most deprived areas, compared to 2.9% of the population in the least deprived.

Back in 2009, a Diabetes UK report revealed that the poorest people in the UK are two and a half times more likely to have diabetes at any age than the average person.

Rise in prescription items

The NHSBSA report also revealed that the number of prescription items for diabetes has increased every year – rising from just under 50 million in 2015/16 to almost 58 million in 2019/20.

In 2019/20, there was a 4.2% increase in the number of items compared to 2018/19, it found, with just over two million more items prescribed.

The number of diabetic patients has also increased every year over the same period, with over three million patients in the UK currently receiving diabetes medicines, NHSBSA found.

However, the number of items prescribed has increased more rapidly over the last 12 months, it said, which has resulted in a greater number of medicines per patient than in previous years.

Figures published by NHS Digital last year also showed that NHS England spending on diabetes prescriptions has risen by 79.3% over the last 10 years, now accounting for 12.5% of all prescribing costs in primary care.