For British citizens who want to know what is diabetes, NHS (National Health Service) is their best source for information. The NHS is the U.K.’s public health system responsible for the care of British citizens with diabetes, operating under different names in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales while providing the same service to all citizens. With an estimated 2.8 million people suffering from diabetes and another 1 million undiagnosed in the U.K., it is important to know what is diabetes. NHS support services, especially their website (, can answer question related to pre-diabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. On their website NHS provides a “Map of Medicine” allowing health care professionals to share with their patients how diabetes symptoms are mapped and the various steps of care necessary. For medical care and appointments the NHS a specific search feature to find the nearest diabetes support.


NHS Direct Diabetes


In 1997 the National Health Service began offering NHS Direct (, a 24-hour service for individuals seeking health advice and counseling. Patients can call 0845 4647, visit the website of use the phone apps available to investigate and receive help with dental general practice questions, support for patients with long-term conditions, pre- and post-operative support, health questions and scares, and “remote telephone clinics”. A useful tool for individuals with diabetes and those who want to know what is diabetes, NHS Direct can assist in identifying symptoms, complications, and counsel them with the management of their blood sugar.


Cost of Diabetes to NHS


A 2010 report by the BBC found that the NHS spends 7% of its total prescribing budget is spent on diabetes medications. In 2008 the NHS spent £700 million on blood sugar drugs, estimating a 50% increase in the number of prescriptions written since 2000. Researchers pointed to the increased price of drugs and use of insulin. The report suggest that the lifestyle guidelines for diabetes management were not being followed, favoring the prescription of drugs rather than the use of exercise and diet to manage blood sugar levels.

In a NHS report published in August of 2011, the prevalence of diabetes in England was found to have increased by 4.3% from 2009 to 2010. Diabetes drugs were found to be the greatest increase in cost of primary care with 38.3 million prescriptions written in 2010/2011 with a net ingredient cost of £725.1 million. The use of metformin rose from 8.6 million in 2005/2006 to 14.6 million in 2010/2011 following the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) recommendation that it be used as a first-line oral therapy.