Fighting the diabetes postcode lottery - NVcharity

This article link to: London

Thousands of adults and children with diabetes are being denied a new life-changing technology that could help them to safely manage their condition.

Many people with diabetes need to check their own blood glucose (sugar) levels. This is usually done with a finger-prick blood test, using a meter that says how much glucose there is in the blood at the time of the test. People with diabetes who use insulin often need to test many times a day.

In contrast, flash glucose monitoring (known as Flash) uses a small sensor that people wear on their skin that records blood sugar levels continuously, and can be read by scanning the sensor whenever needed. This device can free them from the pain of frequent finger-prick testing, making it easier to keep on top of blood sugar levels.

Crucially, because Flash helps people test more frequently, and gives them much more information, it in turn supports people to better manage their diabetes. This can then reduce the risk of serious diabetes complications, such as amputation, sight loss and stroke, as well as improving quality of life, and saving the NHS much-needed funds. That’s why we’re campaigning for better access to this life-changing technology – join our Flash campaign.

Better access to this life-changing technology

Even though in principle the device can be prescribed on the NHS since November 2017, its use is subject to approval by local health bodies. Currently, only Northern Ireland, Wales and two in five areas in England and one in three in Scotland have made it available to people who meet local criteria.

Local decision makers have decided against prescribing Flash in 52 areas in England, while thousands of people with diabetes are awaiting decisions by 38 clinical commissioning groups across England and 9 health boards in Scotland that are currently reviewing their policies. There is no information on availability or plans to review policies in 35 areas.

This means that people with diabetes face a postcode lottery to access technology that could help them manage their condition well. For instance, in Yorkshire, Flash is available in Sheffield but not available in the nearby city of Wakefield. The variation in care is similar across the UK, with Preston and Blackburn in Lancashire having a blanket ban and neighbouring Wigan and Manchester providing access to those who meet local criteria. In the Midlands, Birmingham is not offering access while Wolverhampton has made Flash available.

In the South East, 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. In the South West, Flash is offered in Somerset, while Dorset in its eastern borders has not given access. In London, most boroughs have agreed in principle to make Flash available and are currently finalising implementation plans.

We’re now urgently calling on local health bosses to give access to the ground-breaking technology to those who can benefit, no matter where they live.


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