Hundreds of thousands of people with type 1 diabetes in England will be eligible for “life-changing” gadgets to keep track of their blood sugars on the NHS.
The health service said it had struck a deal to buy continuous glucose monitors at a cut price, paving the way for wider access. The monitors are no bigger than a bottle cap and are worn on the arm. They measure glucose levels from just under the skin, and send information to a mobile app. Traditionally patients whose bodies cannot produce the hormone insulin have had to take finger-prick blood samples to check their sugar levels. And more recently they have been able to use flash monitors, which patients must repeatedly scan to get data.
This information on blood sugar levels allows them to inject the right amount of insulin to keep within the healthy range, or eat something sugary if the levels are too low. Health service bosses said that a new deal with the manufacturer Dexcom had brought the costs for continuous monitors down.
Dr Partha Kar, national speciality adviser for diabetes and obesity, said: “This is a huge step forward for type 1 diabetes care and these monitors will be life-changing for anyone with the illness — giving them more choice to manage their condition in the most convenient way possible — as well as the best chance at living healthier lives, reducing their risk of hospitalisation and illnesses associated with diabetes, which in turn reduces pressure on wider NHS services.”
The move follows a recommendation for the technology from the treatment watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in March. Patients will be able to choose between flash and continuous glucose monitoring with their treatment team.
Commenting on the announcement, Theresa May, the first world leader to have type 1 diabetes, said that the devices were “transformational”.
Andy Lavender, 56, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since he was two years old and is chairman of a local branch of Diabetes UK, said: “I hope this will be the beginning of the end of people needing to draw blood several times a day to test their blood glucose. My CGM changed my life, I would test my bloods 14 times a day and now I just look at my smartphone.”
Date: 2 August