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Prescribing for Diabetes – England – 2015/16 to 2021/22

Published 11 August 2022.


Diabetes features as one of the priorities for care and quality outcomes in the NHS Long Term Plan.

This publication aims to describe the prescribing of medicines and appliances used for the treatment of diabetes in a primary care setting in England that are dispensed in the community. This does not include data on medicines used in secondary care, prisons, or issued by a private prescriber.

In previous releases of this publication, geographical breakdowns have been reported at Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level. Changes to the NHS Organisational Structure mean that Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) will succeed Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and replace the functions of CCGs from July 2022. Geographical breakdowns are now reported at ICB level. Further details of the changes in the NHS organisational structure can be found at the NHS Digital Organisation Data Service.

This publication now also includes a combined breakdown of patients by age band and sex.

This is an experimental Official Statistics release.

Key findings

  • In 2021/22, there were 60.3 million drug items used in treating diabetes prescribed in England for a cost of £1.25 billion – 13.0% of the total spend on all prescription items prescribed in England. This was an increase from 2015/16 where 49.7 million diabetes items were prescribed in England for a cost of £958 million, representing 10.4% of the total spend on all prescription items.
  • Antidiabetic drugs were the most prescribed drugs used in treating diabetes in England in 2021/22 with 45.3 million items at a cost of £746 million. The costs of antidiabetic drugs have increased by 76.1% since 2015/16 from £423 million.
  • There were 3.20 million identified patients that were prescribed drugs used in diabetes in England in 2021/22. This was a 4.95% increase from 3.05 million identified patients in 2020/21, and an 18.2% increase from 2.70 million in 2015/16.
  • The most common group to receive prescribing for drugs used in diabetes in 2021/22 was male patients aged 60 to 64 with 232,000 identified patients. The next most common groups were male patients aged 70 to 74 and male patients 65 to 69.
  • Areas of greater deprivation had the highest number of identified patients who were being prescribed drugs used in treating diabetes in 2021/22, with two and a half times as many patients receiving prescribing from practices in the most deprived areas of the country compared to the least deprived.

Resource list

Prescribing for Diabetes England 2021/22 - Statistical Summary narrative (HTML)

Costs and items summary tables (Excel: 70KB)

Patient demographics summary tables (Excel: 180KB)

Background information and methodology note (ODT: 243KB)

User engagement strategy (ODT: 231KB)

Pre-release access list (ODT: 218KB)


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Responsible statistician: Kirsty Gray