National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS)

Information relating to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS)

Page last updated: 27 May 2016

About NDSS changes | Overview | Agents and Access Points | Registrants | 2011-16 Agreement | Products | Registrant Support Services | National Development Programs | Reviews | Consumer Fact Sheet

About NDSS changes

From 1 July 2016 some important changes are happening to the NDSS. There are no changes to the types of products available under the NDSS, but the way people access these products may change.

People will still be able to access NDSS products through their local participating community pharmacy access point. In fact the Federal Government wants to extend the number of community pharmacies that provide NDSS products to make it more convenient for people with diabetes. NDSS products will no longer be available through Diabetes Australia (DA) or state and territory diabetes organisations. This means people will no longer be able to order products via the Diabetes Australia shops, the NDSS 1300 number or via the website.

Diabetes Australia and state and territory diabetes organisations will instead focus efforts on continuing to provide education services for people with diabetes.

There will be no changes to NDSS education services funded by the Government - in fact the Government will be increasing funding to expand education and support available to people with diabetes.

Community Pharmacies have made up more than 90% of all NDSS access points in Australia for over ten years, so people can be confident that if they have not accessed pharmacy before for this, they will receive a high level of service.

NDSS Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 23 KB)
NDSS Frequently Asked Questions (Word 31 KB)

Overview of the NDSS

The National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) is an initiative of the Australian Government which has been administered by Diabetes Australia since 1987.

Through the NDSS the Australian Government and Diabetes Australia work together to enhance the capacity of over one million Australians with type 1, type 2, gestational and other diabetes to understand and manage their life with diabetes. The NDSS aims to ensure people have timely, reliable and affordable access to the supplies and services they require to effectively self-manage their diabetes.

Table 1 - The number of people registered on the NDSS for each financial year, and Australian Government expenditure.

Financial Year

Persons

Australian Government expenditure

2002-2003
496,642
$81,389,001
2003-2004
553,692
$86,267,883
2004-2005
611,603
$94,149,126
2005-2006
669,741
$104,528,713
2006-2007
732,017
$113,755,487
2007-2008
798,538
$126,172,296
2008-2009
877,572
$135,815,193
2009-2010
957,338
$156,809,364
2010-2011
1,032,717
$163,398,842
2011-2012
1,037,621
$181,678,814
2012-2013
1,086,860
$197,154,279
2013-2014
1,133,412
$200,242,241
Further, the NDSS established a National Gestational Diabetes Register in 2011 to help women who have had gestational diabetes to manage their health into the future.

Table 2 - The number of people registered on the National Diabetes Register for each financial year

Financial Year

Persons

Australian Government expenditure

2011-2012
17,793
$210,669
2012-2013
38,567
$465,118
2013-2014
59,706
$732,592

Agents and Access Points

The Department of Health (the Department) and Diabetes Australia recognise that as a national initiative it is essential to ensure that the Scheme provides appropriate access arrangements across Australia.

To do this Diabetes Australia appoints state and territory diabetes organisations as Agents to manage the delivery of services and products in each state and territory.

In turn, Agents appoint Access Points (previously know as Sub-Agents) that supply products to Registrants of the Scheme. There are currently over 4,800 Access Points across Australia, the majority of which are pharmacies. A full list of NDSS Agents and Access Points can be found on the NDSS website.

Registrants

To register with the NDSS, applicants must be diagnosed with diabetes and hold or be eligible to hold a Medicare card and live in Australia. Sometimes visitors to Australia may be eligible through a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with their home country.

The PBS also funds a number of products for persons with diabetes, primarily diagnostic agents and insulin. Australian Government expenditure on these supplies through the PBS in 2013/14 was over $542 million.

2011-16 Agreement

On 30 June 2011, a new five year Agreement was signed between the Commonwealth and Diabetes Australia. The Agreement, which commenced on 1 July 2011, is expected to cost $1 billion over five years.

In developing the 2011-16 Agreement, 38 Scheme stakeholders including state and territory diabetes organisations, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Australia Diabetes Educators Association, the Australia Diabetes Society and manufacturers of diabetes products, were consulted. The 2011-16 Agreement was enhanced based on this feedback.

More than one million Australians will benefit from improved services and information as part of the new five year Agreement, with particular emphasis being placed on increasing access for those newly diagnosed, children and their families, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and disadvantaged communities.

NDSS Agreement (PDF 745 KB)
NDSS Agreement (Word 842 KB)

Products

Under the 2011-16 Agreement, the NDSS will continue to subsidise the cost of syringes and needles, blood glucose test strips, urine ketone test strips and insulin pump consumables. A detailed list of products available through the NDSS can be found on the NDSS website.

Annually, over 5 million products are provided to NDSS Registrants, through Diabetes Australia’s Agents offices, by mail order and through accredited Access Points, such as pharmacies and hospital clinics.

On average over 60% of Registrants access products to assist in the self-management of their diabetes each year.

Registrant Support Services

Under the 2011-16 Agreement, Diabetes Australia has committed to provide nationally consistent services to Registrants to maximise their capacity to self manage their diabetes.

Registrant Support Services provide access to information, advice on and response to requests from Registrants for information on the appropriate use of products and general information on the self-management of diabetes.

Registrant Support Services include:

    • registration cards and Scheme starter packs;
    • ongoing self-management information packs and national information sheets that include guidance on issues such as diet, exercise and mental health;
    • a telephone helpline (1300 136 588) to provide Registrants with one on one support on product ordering, general information and health professional referrals;
    • a national website which provides advice and information on the NDSS and how to obtain products and services; and
    • other resources and activities developed through the National Development Programs and targeted for specific needs, such as the newly diagnosed, children and families, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Diabetes Australia must ensure that all Registrant Support Services are accessible and consistent for all Registrants no matter where they live in Australia.

National Development Programs

Under the 2011-16 Agreement, Diabetes Australia is undertaking projects and activities to increase support for all eligible people with diabetes.

In 2011-12, to identify future projects through the life of the Agreement, a strategic planning process was undertaken, including stakeholder consultation.

A range of projects have been developed with key focus being placed on:

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
    • young people with diabetes;
    • people with diabetes from culturally and linguistically diverse communities;
    • older people with diabetes with a particular focus on potential for improved access for aged care facilities;
    • psychosocial and mental health impacts of living with and managing diabetes for all Registrants;
    • diabetes in pregnancy; and
    • e-health and coordinated care.
In 2011-12 Diabetes Australia undertook a planning process, including stakeholder consultation, to identify future projects through the life of the Agreement. As part of this, two additional projects were identified:
    • disaster planning and management; and
    • database analytics.

Reviews

Diabetes Australia has undertaken a number of reviews to ensure the Scheme continues to be administered efficiently and effectively.

The reviews identified included:

    • a review of the product supply and delivery arrangements, with a view to seeking efficiencies in this aspect of the Scheme;
    • a review of the product Schedule, to determine the currency and appropriateness of the Products being supplied through the Scheme; and
    • a review of Registrant Support Services, to ensure ongoing relevance, identify improvement opportunities and consistently deliver services across Australia.
Key stakeholders were invited to participate in these reviews.

At the completion of these Reviews, it became clear that they should not be considered in isolation. An Integrated Review was undertaken in 2013/14 in consultation with stakeholders, to consider all recommendations of the reviews.

The outcomes of the Integrated Review are currently being considered.

Consumer Fact Sheet


New arrangements for supplying subsidised products to Australians with diabetes, as well as providing information and support, will mean greater convenience for consumers, better value for money for taxpayers, and savings to the Australian Government. Importantly, there will be no cuts to the services that are currently provided to people with diabetes.

From 1 July 2016, the Government is introducing changes to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) – an Australian Government-funded scheme that provides subsidised products for people with diabetes, along with self-management information and support services.

Under the new arrangements, people with diabetes will pick up their Government-subsidised diabetes-related products – such as needles, syringes, blood glucose test strips and urine test strips, and insulin pump consumables – at the pharmacy, and no longer via Diabetes Australia. There will be no change in the range of products available, or in the co-payment for people with diabetes.

People with diabetes will continue to be able to readily access the products they need to manage their diabetes, no matter where they live. The new arrangements will give them many more locations to access products – in most cases at the same pharmacy where they get their medication.

Diabetes Australia will continue to play a key role in supporting Australians with diabetes.

These new arrangements will help people to be better informed about managing their diabetes, with the Government increasing funding for support and education programmes run by Diabetes Australia in collaboration with state and territory diabetes organisations.

In another change, people with type 2 diabetes who have not been prescribed insulin will be restricted to an initial six month supply of subsidised blood glucose test strips through the NDSS and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This follows a review of the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee into the most effective clinical use of the strips.

People with type 2 diabetes not using insulin do not need to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels with strips. If there is a clinical need they will be able to access additional strips.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with type 2 diabetes, whose numbers are disproportionately higher than non-Indigenous Australians, will still get their strips free through Aboriginal Health Services, but the six month supply limits will still apply.

These changes are in line with key objectives of the Government’s health reform agenda – namely, making it easier for consumers to deal with the health system; ensuring people have access to the products and medicines they need for quality health care; and introducing efficiencies to ease the strains on the nation’s health budget.

Efficiencies from the new supply arrangements will enable some savings to be reinvested in helping people to more effectively manage their diabetes, including through improved education and support. .

Established in 1987, the NDSS is administered by Diabetes Australia and aims to improve health outcomes for people with diabetes.

The Government is encouraging people with diabetes who are not registered with the NDSS to do so. This way, they can get subsidised products and be kept up to date with the latest available information and support to help manage their condition.