Cost of Diabetes

Diabetes costs the NHS £1m a day
Diabetes costs the NHS £1.5m a day

The cost of diabetes to the NHS is over £1.5m an hour or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales. This equates to over £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute.

In total, an estimated £14 billion pounds is spent a year on treating diabetes and its complications, with the cost of treating complications representing the much higher cost.

The prevalence of diabetes is estimated to rise to 4 million by 2025.

Costs of diabetes treatment in the UK

The following table represents the relative cost of diabetes treatment in the UK in 2010.

Cost of diabetes treatment in the UK in 2010
Area of expenditure Type 1
Type 2
Percentage of costs
Source: Kanavos, van den Aardweg and Schurer: Diabetes expenditure, burden of disease and management in 5 EU countries, LSE (Jan 2012)
Diabetes drugs £0.344 billion £0.712 billion £1.056 billion 7.8%
Non-diabetes drugs £0.281 billion £1.810 billion £2.091 billion 15.2%
Inpatient £1.007 billion £8.038 billion £9.045 billion 65.8%
Outpatient (excluding drugs) £0.170 billion £1.158 billion £1,328 billion 9.7%
Other (including social service) - - £0.230 billion 1.7%
Total £1.802 billion £11.718 billion £13.750 billion 100%

The cost of diabetes complications

A 2012 report from the London School of Economics, estimates that the cost of prescribing medication for complications of diabetes is around 3 to 4 times the cost of prescribing diabetes medication.

Medication for cardiovascular disease constitutes the largest proportion of prescriptions costs for people with diabetes.

Annual inpatient care, to treat short and long term complications of diabetes, is estimated at between £1,800 and £2,500 per patient.

This compares with annual outpatient costs, which includes the cost of medications and monitoring supplies, estimated at between £300 and £370 per patient.

Cost of absenteeism, early retirement and social benefits

The following annual costs result from diabetes:

  • Cost of absenteeism: £8.4 billion per year
  • Cost of early retirement: £6.9 billion per year
  • Cost of social benefits: £0.152 billion

Treatment costs risen by 40%

A report by the NHS entitled Prescribing for Diabetes in England reported that over the last 5 years, the cost of drugs and treatments alone in order to treat people with diabetes had risen by 40% from £458.6 million in 2004/5 to £649.2 million in 2009/10.[4]

The cost of diabetes treatments remain a small fraction of the total costs of diabetes.

Metformin and insulin usage

The use of Metformin has risen from 7.6 million in 2004/5 to 13.2 million in 2009/10.

The primary reason for this is due to NICE's recommendation that Metformin should be the first choice for oral diabetes medication

In addition, insulin prescriptions rose from 2.1 million to 4.5 million in the same timeframe.

The cost of human insulin currently stands at £255.2 million in 2009/10 - a rise of just over 132%.

The primary cause of this, according to the report is the higher cost of analogue insulin.

Blood glucose monitoring

The report also stated that there has been a 9.9% increase in blood glucose monitoring devices. In 2009/10, 5.9 million items were prescribed.

The annual cost of blood glucose test strips for the NHS stands at £150 million, representing 1.1% of the total spend on diabetes and its complications. [49]

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