The NHS in Swindon is spending less on diabetes drugs per patient than it did five years ago, figures reveal.

NHS Digital figures show that Swindon CCG forked out £4.1 million on prescribing medicines for diabetes in 2018-19 – an average of £286 on each patient, down from £298 in 2013-14.

Across England, the average spend was £328 per patient last year.

Diabetes drugs accounted for 13 per cent of all money spent on prescriptions in Swindon last year, according to the figures.

Overall, Swindon CCG issued 256,000 prescriptions for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, for around 14,500 patients with diabetes.

The data shows that the NHS spent £1.5 million on insulin in Swindon. Devices to monitor patients’ health, like glucose monitors or fitness trackers, cost £746,000.

The charity Diabetes UK said the disease is “one of our biggest health crises”, and the health service allocated more than £1 billion in the last financial year alone to devices and drugs to deal with it.

Its policy manager Nikki Joule said: “There are, of course, multiple factors to consider, but it is of greater concern that the areas that spend less may not be ensuring everyone is on the most effective medications for them.

“However, it is vital that drugs being prescribed are reviewed regularly to ensure patients receive the most effective therapy and to reduce waste.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Thanks to better diagnosis, the NHS is caring for more people with diabetes than ever before and this is another reminder of the urgent need to prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place.

“Diabetes and its complications cost the NHS billions every year, which is exactly why our long-term plan will help 200,000 people a year benefit from our world-leading Type 2 diabetes prevention programme.”

The NHS bill for treating diabetes has ballooned nationally over the last five years, from more than £800 million in 2013-14 to nearly £1.1 billion in 2018-19.

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use it.

If not controlled, it can lead to heart attacks and strokes, as well as problems with the kidneys, eyes, feet and nerves.

A Swindon CCG spokesman said: “In the current climate of the NHS, every pound spent must be justified and represent value for money for the people of Swindon.

“Over the last year, the CCG has made a conscious effort to reduce costs by prescribing more cost effective drugs, reducing waste and reviewing ineffective treatments, and this way of working has led to the reduction in overall spend on drugs for managing diabetes.

“However, a person’s needs must always come first, and the CCG will always encourage its GPs and pharmacists to prescribe patients the most appropriate medicine for their specific condition.”