Diabetes prescriptions now cost NHS £1bn, figures show

Diabetes prescriptions now cost NHS £1bn, figures show

NHS drugs bill for diabetes soars to £1 billion a year

Around four million people in the UK are living with diabetes – and around 90% of them have type 2 diabetes, which is often linked to being overweight or inactive.

Diabetes prescriptions are costing the NHS in England more than £1 billion a year, according to figures from NHS Digital.

The devices have theoretically been available on the NHS for just over a year, following advice that they could improve peoples lives and lead to money being saved, although clinical commissioning groups can develop their own policies about funding for the technology. NHS England has advised that the system should be prescribed only to patients meeting certain criteria, including currently undertaking very frequent monitoring of their blood glucose levels, or having a number of admissions to hospital as a result of low blood sugar or other complications.

NHS spending on drugs to treat diabetes has passed £1 billion a year for the first time, almost double the cost of a decade ago.

Read more Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, said the situation was unacceptable. As this investigation shows, tens of thousands of people are still being denied access to Flash despite meeting nationally recommended prescribing criteria, purely because of where they live, she said. This unfair postcode lottery is preventing thousands of people living with diabetes from accessing potentially life changing glucose monitoring technology.

One prescription in 20 is for diabetes treatment and drugs used to combat the condition now make up 11.4 per cent of all prescription costs in primary care in England, according to figures from NHS Digital. Diabetes UK said that the condition was the biggest threat to the health of our country, and the National Obesity Forum said that urgent action was required.

Meanwhile, Leicester city clinical commissioning group told the Guardian they were in the process of reviewing their previous policy of withholding access to the device, which, they say, was based on there being not enough evidence to demonstrate that it is effective for monitoring diabetes, compared with the cost.

GPs have said that they do not have enough time when they are with patients to discuss lifestyle changes that might help people to avoid or come off medication.

Now an investigation by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in collaboration with diabetes campaigner Nick Cahm has revealed that 25 of 195 clinical commissioning groups in England have not yet issued a single prescription for the system, despite others offering the device to almost 25% of people with type 1 diabetes.

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