Diabetes prescriptions soar to 45m
The number of drugs dished out to treat diabetes has soared as the condition continues to take its toll on people across the nation, new figures show.
In little under a decade, the number of prescriptions for the treatment of diabetes has risen by 66.5%, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
In 2013/14, 45.1 million prescription items - including insulin, anti-diabetic drugs and monitoring devices for the condition - were handed out to patients in England, an 18 million rise on the number prescribed in 2005/6.
The HSCIC said that this equates to an average of 123,610 items every single day.
It also found that p rescriptions given out by GPs to manage diabetes cost the NHS £2.2 million on average every day in 2013/14.
HSCIC chairman Kingsley Manning said: "Today's report brings to light the rising costs for managing diabetes in primary care.
"Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent life-threatening conditions in England and now accounts for almost 10% of the drugs bill. Our latest data highlights the growing implications to the NHS and patients of managing this condition."
Local councils, which are in charge of public health in their areas, called on MPs to reinvest some money earned from taxing sugary foods and drinks into activity and weight management programmes.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents around 400 councils in England and Wales, said the money would be a "massive boost" to combating obesity - a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Jonathan McShane, of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "The sheer numbers of people with diabetes shows the very real need to help more of the population improve their diets and lead healthy lifestyles.
"Diabetes has a significant personal cost to those afflicted and a huge financial cost to the NHS, the adult social care system and the economy.
"This is why the LGA is calling for whichever political party makes up the next government to reinvest a small percentage of the VAT received by the Treasury from the sale of sugary foods and drinks into locally-run activity and weight management programmes.
"This extra money would be a massive boost in the battle to combat obesity and diabetes and has the potential to improve lives and save the public purse many billions of pounds."
Simon O'Neill, director of health intelligence at the charity Diabetes UK: "This report reflects the growing scale of diabetes and the fact that the condition is leading to huge costs to the NHS.
"The dramatic increase in cases of type 2 diabetes which we have seen in current years is a huge factor in this spending which overall costs the NHS £10 billion a year. So if the Government wants to reduce this enormous cost - and we can't understand why it wouldn't - we need to see it intervening to ensure that the rise of cases is stemmed.
"One way of doing this is through the already established, but poorly implemented, NHS Health Check programme which has the potential to identify people at high risk of type 2 diabetes and give them the vital support they need to reduce their risk of developing the condition.
"We must remember that medication such as insulin is an essential treatment for people with diabetes to enable them to effectively manage their condition, reduce their risk of devastating complications and ultimately stay alive."