Published on 22 November 2018

Newly published report reveals treating diabetes takes up more than a tenth of health budget.

The cost of treating people with diabetes costs the NHS more than £1 billion each year.

A recently published Prescribing for Diabetes report by NHS Digital also highlighted that diabetes medicines now make up 11.4% of primary care costs.

In addition, 4.9% of all medicines prescribed are to treat diabetes.

With more people being diagnosed with diabetes, so too the costs to treat people with the condition are increasing.

The report added that 53.4 million items were prescribed for diabetes in the financial year 2017/18 at a total cost of £1,012.4 million. That figure is up by 22.6 million prescription items and £421.7 million since 2007/08.

In addition, antidiabetic drugs make up 47.1% of the total cost of drugs used to treat diabetes – making up 72.6% of prescription items for all diabetes prescribing.

One GP warned that the NHS could be on course to go bust due to rising costs of treating diabetes and that alternative methods of care – such as lifestyle changes and digital tools – should be encouraged.

Dr Roger Henderson, GP and UK Medical Director at digital health platform Liva Healthcare, said: “With the rising cost of diabetes, it is only a matter of time before funds run out altogether. GPs must look to other options to treat type 2 diabetes. 

“With lifestyle changes to diet and exercise, many cases of type 2 diabetes can be reversed with the number of complications reduced in other cases. Patients often prefer to be treated with lifestyle changes rather than medication and this form of treatment can be incredibly empowering for the individual. 

“Providing digital tools to enable patients to make – and maintain – these lifestyle changes is a sustainable way to free up healthcare professionals’ time, whilst moving patients off medication. 

“I firmly believe that this is the way forward in helping reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, whilst driving efficiency and reducing costs in the NHS. It’s time to revolutionise the treatment of type 2 diabetes.”

Read the Prescribing for Diabetes report on the NHS Digital website
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