National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS)

Information relating to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS)

Page last updated: 21 June 2016

Changes to the NDSS from 1 July 2016 | Overview | Agents and Access Points | Registrants | 2011-16 Agreement | Products | Registrant Support Services | National Development Programs | Reviews

Changes to the NDSS from 1 July 2016

From 1 July 2016, there will be changes to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS).

These changes will continue to enable people living with diabetes to access the products they need. The current arrangements for accessing products from the NDSS will remain in place until 30 June 2016.

There are no changes to the cost or types of products available under the NDSS, but the way you access these products may change. You will still be able to access NDSS products through your local participating NDSS community pharmacy. At present there are over 4,800 community pharmacies which are NDSS Access Points across Australia, you can find your nearest NDSS pharmacy by calling the Diabetes Australia NDSS Infoline on 1300 136 588.

NDSS education services provided by Diabetes Australia and its state and territory agents will continue.

What are the changes from 1 July 2016?

  • People with diabetes will continue to access NDSS products such as needles, syringes, blood glucose test strips and urine test strips from NDSS community pharmacies. In addition, from 1 July 2016 insulin pump consumables will be available from NDSS community pharmacies.
  • The range of products available will not change, nor will the copayment you are required to pay.
  • NDSS products will no longer be available in the current way from Diabetes Australia or local state and territory diabetes organisations (this includes via state and territory diabetes organisation shops and websites, and the NDSS 1300 number).
  • Insulin pump consumables will be available from NDSS community pharmacies. Where a pharmacy does not stock the insulin pump consumables required, they can be ordered by the pharmacy and delivered to the pharmacy generally within 24 hours.
  • NDSS products will be supplied to NDSS community pharmacies using the same distribution network that pharmacies use to receive medicines. Aligning these delivery channels will streamline the way products are delivered to pharmacies.
  • Support and advice from Diabetes Australia and local state and territory diabetes organisations about NDSS products will continue to be provided to all NDSS registrants over the phone and through ongoing education programs. This will include training for NDSS community pharmacies on supplying insulin pump consumables.

Changes to Access to Blood Glucose Test Strips

  • From 1 July 2016, there will be changes to access to blood glucose test strips under the NDSS. These changes will not affect people with diabetes using insulin or women with gestational diabetes.
  • People with type 2 diabetes not using insulin will receive an initial six month supply of subsidised blood glucose test strips under the NDSS. After six months, they will only be eligible for further access to subsidised test strips if their doctor or other authorised health professional considers it clinically necessary to use test strips.
  • This change follows the independent advice of the expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). PBAC recommended restrictions to access to blood glucose test strips based on research including the results of a Post Market Review on products used in the management of diabetes which found there is limited evidence that self-monitoring of blood glucose improves blood glucose control, quality of life or long term complications in people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin.
  • Restrictions will come into effect six months from the date of a NDSS Registrant’s first test strip purchase from 1 July 2016. This will be automatically recorded on the NDSS system accessed by pharmacies when supplying products to Registrants. The initial six month access period applies to both new and existing NDSS registrants. Where a registrant has been accessing test strips for several years, their six month initial access period will commence from their first order of test strips on or after 1 July 2016.
  • There is no limit on the number of extensions to access that may be obtained from your authorised health professional while there is a continuing clinical need.
For questions, please see the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below, or contact Diabetes Australia on 1300 136 588.

Frequently Asked Questions (regarding changes to the NDSS)

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 YearPersonsAustralian 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 YearPersonsAustralian 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.