Diabetes cost on NHS revealed as patient numbers in Suffolk and north-east Essex hit 51,776

PUBLISHED: 14:54 08 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:31 08 August 2017

A patient prepares their insulin treatment. Picture: OWN HINES

A patient prepares their insulin treatment. Picture: OWN HINES

The NHS is now spending almost £18milllion a year on everyday medication for diabetics in Suffolk and north-east Essex, new figures reveal.

Diabetes UK Eastern Improving Care Manager, Brioni Maker. Picture: BRIONI MAKERDiabetes UK Eastern Improving Care Manager, Brioni Maker. Picture: BRIONI MAKER

In 2016/2017, GPs in these locations wrote out more than 900,000 prescriptions for the condition, which affects the sufferer’s ability to regulate their blood sugar level.

The average yearly drugs bill for each patient in the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas today stands at £350, a rise of £45 from 2011/2012, while in the North East Essex CCG area it has gone up from £316 to £338, according to NHS data.

The number of diabetics aged 17 and over registered with their GP in these parts of the region has increased by 8% in two years, from 47,737 in 2013/2014, to 51,776 in 2015/2016, the latest statistics available.

Around 90% of all UK adults with diabetes have type 2, which is linked to lifestyle and obesity issues.

Nationally, diabetes treatment currently makes up 11% (£983.7m) of medicine costs within primary care, with 52m items prescribed in 2016/2017 - almost double the number from 10 years ago.

Brioni Maker, Eastern Improving Care Manager at charity Diabetes UK, said: “The number of people diagnosed with diabetes has risen by 54% in the last decade, so it’s no surprise that levels of prescribing have risen by almost the same level.

“But the increase in prescribing at a primary care level is indicative of the hard work doctors are doing to help people living with diabetes keep their blood glucose at safe levels, and preventing devastating, and costly, complications – such as cardiovascular and kidney disease – further down the line.

“It is vital that drugs being prescribed are reviewed regularly to not only ensure patients receive the most effective therapy, but also to reduce waste.

“Diabetes is one of our biggest health crises, and with 12m people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it’s clear that focusing on prevention is vital to prevent costs rising even higher.”

The Suffolk and North East Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, which is in charge of delivering a five-year overhaul plan of local health care services, has recently been awarded £1m for diabetes awareness initiatives.

A spokesman for the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk NHS CCGs said a specialist community diabetes team had been introduced to help patients in Suffolk who were finding it difficult to control their condition, offering outreach clinics, advice and one-to-one support.

He added: “Diabetes can be serious, but the right education and support can help people to successfully manage the condition while reducing their chances of developing further complications and needing hospital care. Living an improved lifestyle, including healthy eating and taking more exercise, will help avoid obesity and reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes.”

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