People living with diabetes need more help to manage their condition well - that’s the message on World Diabetes Day as the cost of prescribing medication in England reaches more than £1 billion a year.

New diabetes figures from NHS Digital have revealed the shocking cost to NHS England of treating and managing the disease. The sharpest rise is in treatment for type 2 diabetes, which affects around 90% of people living with the condition.

The cost of prescriptions has risen by more than £422 million in the last 10 years, with almost one in 20 GP prescriptions now being for diabetes treatment. According to Diabetes UK head of policy Robin Hewings, the figures reflect a dramatic rise in the incidence of diabetes.

"Diabetes is the biggest threat to the health of our country. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years and it is responsible for 26,000 early deaths per year, alongside serious complications such as blindness, amputation or stroke,” he said.

"This data shows that diabetes prescribing costs £1bn, but it is estimated that the total cost to the NHS is over £10bn a year, so the real price we have to pay for diabetes is not medications, but the devastating and expensive complications.

“That’s why we need to focus on spending more money on helping people manage their diabetes well. The NHS needs to maintain its focus on diabetes in its Long-Term Plan, and particularly to make sure that people receive the education, care and technologies to help them manage their condition safely.”

In 2017-18, nearly £477m was spent on antidiabetic drugs, £350m was spent on insulin and £181m on diagnostic and monitoring devices. NHS England national clinical director for diabetes and obesity Professor Jonathan Valabhji said: “Thanks to better diagnosis and treatment, the NHS is caring for more people than ever before with diabetes, and this new data highlights the urgent need to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place.”

Earlier this year, the British Heart Foundation warned that a dramatic surge in diabetes could see an epidemic of heart attacks and stroke in less than 20 years. The charity predicted that the number of heart attacks and stroke in people living with diabetes will rise by 29% by 2035 unless ‘bold action’ is taken to tackle obesity and inactivity.

The right health insurance can provide quick access to treatment and medication for diabetes and help prevent complications before they arise. We also have a range of articles on improving your health and fitness - read on!