Diabetes crisis 'threatens to bankrupt NHS', experts warn

Diabetes crisis ‘threatens to bankrupt NHS’: One in every eight pounds spent on prescriptions is to treat the disease, experts warn

  • Britain’s diabetes crisis huge cost to NHS with £1.19bn spent on prescriptions
  • Nearly 5m in the UK thought to have diabetes, of which nine in ten have type 2
  • Patients in deprived areas four-times more likely to be prescribed diabetes drugs

Britain’s diabetes crisis threatens to ‘bankrupt the NHS’ as one in every eight pounds spent on prescriptions is now for the disease, experts warn.

The Health Service spent £1.19billion on the likes of anti-diabetes pills and insulin in England last year – up a quarter since 2015/16.

More than 3.05million patients were prescribed 57.9million items typically used to treat the condition, the NHS Business Services Authority said.

Britain’s diabetes crisis threatens to ‘bankrupt the NHS’ as £1.19billion was spent on the likes of anti-diabetes pills and insulin in England last year – up a quarter since 2015/16 (file image)

This is up 12.7 per cent from 2.7million people five years earlier when doctors issued 49.7million prescriptions for the disease. Children younger than four are among those being given the drugs.

Nearly 5million in the UK are thought to have diabetes, of which nine in ten have type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is an unpreventable autoimmune disease that usually develops in childhood but type 2 is largely preventable and is linked to obesity. The condition can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes and some people require limb amputations.

Previous studies have put the total cost to the NHS at £14billion a year or more than £25,000 every minute.

Patients in the most deprived areas of England are almost four-times more likely to be prescribed diabetes drugs than those in the wealthiest areas.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘I’m horrified at the eye-watering cost of treating diabetes, which is getting higher every year. The Government needs to take serious action to tackle rising obesity levels and get a grip on the crisis or it risks bankrupting the NHS.

‘The Health Service is crying out for funding to tackle a backlog in care and cannot afford to be spending such vast sums on a condition that is eminently preventable.’

Nearly 5m in the UK are thought to have diabetes, of which nine in 10 have type 2 and patients in deprived areas of England are four-times more likely prescribed diabetes drugs (file image)

An NHS Digital report recently revealed 122,780 people under the age of 40 have diabetes, including 1,570 children aged 18 or under.

Historically, type 2 was only seen in over-40s and was regarded as a ‘middle-aged disease’. But soaring obesity levels mean cases in young adults and children are on the rise.

The figures show around nine in ten under-18s with type 2 diabetes are classed as obese or overweight.

Bridget Turner, of Diabetes UK, said: ‘Diagnoses have almost doubled in the past 15 years so, while this rise in diabetes drug prescriptions was to be expected, the increased prevalence of diabetes in the UK is a huge concern.

‘The Government must make diabetes a priority and invest properly in fighting it, which includes the prevention of type 2 as well as good care.’ 

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