Diabetes costs soar as rising numbers diagnosed

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Soaring costs for diabetes drugs mean the NHS has doubled its spend in the last decade to nearly £1bn, as the number of people being diagnosed continues to rise.

Around 2.9m people in the UK are being treated for diabetes, the latest NHS figures show, with one in 17 in Yorkshire suffering from the disease.

This figure is rising steadily and means the NHS is now spending £2.6m a day on prescriptions - making diabetes the most expensive of all drug sectors.

The Department of Health said it was taking “strong action” on tackling the condition, establishing the world’s first diabetes prevention programme to stop people getting it in the first place.

A spokeswoman said: “We know childhood is the best place to start with a healthy lifestyle. Our comprehensive childhood obesity strategy will build on measures we are already taking, like the soft drinks industry levy.”

An NHS report published yesterday shows the cost of diabetes drugs has risen by £88m in the last year, bringing the total cost of treating it to £956.7m.

This makes up 10.6 per cent of the total cost of all prescribing in primary care in England, and is almost double the cost of a decade ago, when it was £513.9m.

The highest spend was in Newham in London where the CCG spent 17.9 per cent of its budgets on diabetes drugs, compared to 7.4 per cent in North Tyneside.

Across Yorkshire and the Humber, 6.6 per cent of the population suffer from diabetes, and the spend on treating it accounts for 10 per cent of the total budget.

Prime Minister Theresa May is among the 8.7% of diabetics who have Type 1. Mrs May told of her “shock” when she was diagnosed three years ago, and must now inject herself with insulin at least twice a day for the rest of her life.

But she insisted her illness “doesn’t affect how I do the job”, saying: “It’s a case of head down and getting on with it.”

The prevalence of diabetes in people over the age of 17 in England increased steadily in recent years, rising 1.1 per cent since 2009.

More than 4,500 people are now diagnosed with diabetes across the UK every week, according to Diabetes UK, with 235,000 diagnosed over the last year.

The charity said the report underlined the impact the soaring number of diagnoses is having on the NHS’s bottom line.

Head of policy Robin Hewings said: “As well as being personally devastating, these complications are also extremely costly to the NHS. The health service spends £10bn every year managing diabetes, and the vast majority of this cost is spent managing potentially avoidable complications. We are spending more on things going wrong than helping people manage their condition well in the first place. This is why preventing cases of Type 2 diabetes, combined with providing people diagnosed with diabetes with prescribed medication and the support and care they need to manage their condition effectively, will help to reduce costs to the NHS in the long term.”