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Many UK diabetics denied life-changing technology

Thousands of people in the UK with diabetes are being denied new life-changing technology that helps them to safely manage their condition, reducing the risk of serious complications. The Guardian reports that this is according to a leading charity Diabetes UK.

Flash glucose monitoring uses a small sensor on the skin that records blood sugar levels continuously and can be read whenever needed. It is more convenient, less painful and provides more information than the traditional method of monitoring blood glucose levels through a finger prick test.

As well as improving quality of life, it reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications such as amputation, blindness and stroke and therefore saves the NHS money, according to Diabetes UK.

The device has – in theory – been available by NHS prescription since November last year but its use is subject to approval by local health bodies. Diabetes UK says that has resulted in a postcode lottery with only people living in certain areas benefitting.

The charity found that only two in five areas in England and one in three in Scotland have made it available to people who meet local criteria, although in Northern Ireland and Wales everyone deemed to qualify gets access.

The report says local decision-makers have decided against prescribing flash monitoring in 52 areas in England. Thousands more with diabetes are awaiting decisions by 38 clinical commissioning groups across England and nine health boards in Scotland who are currently reviewing their policies. There was no information on availability or plans to review policies in 35 areas, Diabetes UK said.

Among the examples of the regional discrepancies highlighted by the charity are the technology’s availability in Sheffield but not in nearby Wakefield. Similarly, Preston and Blackburn in Lancashire have blanket bans on flash but neighbouring Wigan and Manchester provide access to those who meet local criteria. In the Midlands, Birmingham is not offering access while Wolverhampton has made the device available.

In south-east England, the Crawley clinical commissioning group has decided against it, but people with diabetes living a few miles down the road in Brighton and Hove can get it for free on prescription.

Helen Dickens, assistant director of campaigns and mobilisation at Diabetes UK, said: “Every area should now have a policy providing access to flash for free on prescription, so that everyone who can benefit from it, will.”

Julie Wood, the National Health Service (NHS) clinical commissioners CEO, acknowledged in the report that flash had proven to be cost effective for some patients who have type 1 diabetes but said local health systems “will need to balance the need of individual patients against those of their wider population within the resources that they have available”.

[link url=""]The Guardian report[/link]

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