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Diabetes glucose monitors ‘available to thousands more’

A woman using the flash glucose monitoring system

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Science Photo Library

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The glucose monitoring device works via a sensor attached to the skin, allowing people to check their blood sugar levels

Wearable glucose monitors will be made available to tens of thousands more people with type 1 diabetes from April 2019, NHS England has announced.

Its decision comes after an investigation found patients in some areas of the country were being denied access to the device.

It reduces the need for finger-prick blood tests and helps people with diabetes to manage their condition.

Diabetes charities called the change of policy a huge step forward.

In England, about 300,000 people have type 1 diabetes.

The Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system, used by Prime Minister Theresa May, who has the autoimmune condition, was made available on the NHS last November.

But recent research suggested only 3-5% of type 1 patients in England had access to the monitors on the NHS, when 20-25% were eligible.

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Getty Images

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The prime minister’s Freestyle Libre could be seen on her arm when she and her husband attended a dinner with President Trump in July

This was because some local clinical commissioning groups decided not to prioritise funding of the devices.

NHS England said the device would now be funded to allow access throughout the country in all 195 clinical commissioning groups, benefiting a target of about a quarter of people with type 1 diabetes.

‘Postcode lottery’

The glucose monitoring device works via a sensor attached to the skin, allowing people to check their blood sugar levels by using the device with a portable reader or a smartphone app.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England said: “As the NHS prepares to put digital health and technology at the heart of our long term plan for the future, NHS England is taking important action so that regardless of where you live, if you’re a patient with Type 1 diabetes you can reap the benefits of this life improving technology.”

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said the announcement would be “welcome news to the many thousands of people with type 1 diabetes whose lives will now be changed for the better by access to flash glucose monitoring”.

‘More convenient’

Karen Addington, chief executive of type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, said: “This should end the inequality of people being refused access to this life-changing type 1 diabetes technology depending on where they happen to live.”

But she said training should be provided make sure all healthcare professionals knew how to support people using the device.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Rolling out these monitors will not only make life more convenient, it will save the NHS time and resources by preventing people becoming ill in the first place.

“I want to see innovations like these become commonplace in our healthcare system so millions of people across the country stay out of hospital and can get on with their lives.”

Diabetes glucose monitors ‘available to thousands more’

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