The Drugs Do Work. but the Pills Bill Is Rising by Millions; A Rising Tide of Long-Term Conditions like Diabetes and Dementia Is Sending NHS Costs Soaring. Is It Time to Merge Health with Social Services to Give Better All-Round Care to Thousands of Sufferers?

Sunday Mirror (London, England), September 28, 2014 | Go to article overview

The Drugs Do Work. but the Pills Bill Is Rising by Millions; A Rising Tide of Long-Term Conditions like Diabetes and Dementia Is Sending NHS Costs Soaring. Is It Time to Merge Health with Social Services to Give Better All-Round Care to Thousands of Sufferers?


It seems like a bitter pill to swallow - but the cost of keeping you alive has never been higher. The longterm prognosis for those in charge of trying to balance care with the books is: the bill is going to keep rising.

And exclusive figures obtained by the Sunday Mirror show it is dementia and obesity-related conditions which represent the biggest problem for NHS managers. NHS in England and Wales will burn through a total of PS110billion this year - almost double the PS57billion cost of a decade ago. So where does all the money go?

The NHS deals with a million patients every 36 hours and performs 11million operations a year - staggering figures that will climb higher as the UK population jumps from 63million to 67million by 2020 and 73million by 2035. That's thanks to a baby boom that has seen the birth rate jump 18 per cent over the past decade.

We use around a billion prescriptions a year - 1,900 a minute - costing PS8.5billion. Prescription rates rose by two per cent from 2012 to 2013, although costs have remained steady thanks to a number of drugs becoming cheaper when their patents expired. But the rising tide of diabetes - with PS2.2million worth of prescriptions a day - is crippling the NHS.

The annual PS803million bill for diabetes medication has jumped 5.1 per cent from 2012/13 and an astonishing 56.3 per cent from 2005/6, according to figures release by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). Almost a tenth (9.5 per cent) of the total primary care drugs bill was spent on managing diabetes.

The cost of antibiotics rose by 14.8 per cent to PS195.5million during 2013, adding to fears GPs are over-prescribing them and adding to the risk of drug-resistant superbugs developing.

More than 50million prescriptions for anti-depressants, costing PS338million, were issued in 2012 as psychological therapies to treat mental health issues lagged way behind demand. The charity Mind warned that 50 per cent of patients had to wait three months for therapy while 10 per cent were still waiting a year after being diagnosed as needing help. But by far the heftiest bill comes from wages for the 1.3million NHS staff, which runs at around PS40billion. That dwarfs the PS12.3billion drugs bill and the PS12. …

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The Drugs Do Work. but the Pills Bill Is Rising by Millions; A Rising Tide of Long-Term Conditions like Diabetes and Dementia Is Sending NHS Costs Soaring. Is It Time to Merge Health with Social Services to Give Better All-Round Care to Thousands of Sufferers?
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