Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, meaning there is no insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream to the body’s cells.
Diabetes patients must inject insulin to control blood glucose levels on a daily basis and know when to do this through testing their blood glucose. In the past this has been via finger-prick blood tests, however for just over a year the flash glucose monitoring devices have been included on the NHS Drug Tariff. Flash glucose monitors are small sensors worn on the skin of the upper arm, which continuously monitor blood glucose levels that can be accessed by scanning the device.
Although the devices are in principle available via the NHS, local decision makers also need to agree policies on prescribing the technology for people with diabetes in their area. This means different areas may have different availability for the device, or patients have to meet different conditions to be eligible to receive it.
The British Medical Journal have investigated and reported that 25 of 195 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England have not yet issued a prescription for them, whereas others have offered it to almost 25% of people with type 1 diabetes.
The charity Diabetes UK are campaigning for equal access to the device and have mapped the availability of the device.
The chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, Julie Wood, responded:
“Unfortunately the NHS does not have unlimited resources, and ensuring patients get the best possible care against a backdrop of spiralling demands, competing priorities, and increasing financial pressures is one of the biggest issues CCGs face.”
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