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NHS England Announces More Access to Wearable Glucose Monitors
On World Diabetes Day, NHS England has announced that wearable glucose monitors will be made available to tens of thousands more people with type 1 diabetes from April 2019.
The Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system uses a tiny sensor inserted under the skin of the arm, which is connected to a small transmitter patch on the surface of the skin. The sensor reads blood sugar levels from fluid just beneath the skin and transmits them wirelessly to a display on a portable reader held near the sensor. The technology reduces the need for finger-prick blood tests and can make it much easier for people with diabetes to manage their condition.
The device was made available on the NHS last November, but was not available widespread as some local clinical commissioning groups decided not to prioritise its funding. NHS England, however, has said that 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.
There are currently over 3 million people in the UK with diabetes (type 1 and 2) and it is thought that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has doubled over the last 20 years. The condition is costly to the NHS, with 1 in 20 prescriptions being in relation to diabetes treatment. However, it is the devasting complications of diabetes which are most costly, both financially and in human cost. Complications include stroke, blindness, amputation and death.
It is hoped by the Government that in addition to making life more convenient, this system will save the NHS time and resources by preventing people becoming ill in the first place.
Commenting upon the announcement Clair Hemming said:
“I am pleased that NHS England has agreed additional funding to allow all commissioning groups to harness this new digital technology to improve the management of diabetes. It was simply unacceptable for people to be denied this monitor due to a postcode lottery. I am acutely aware of instances where treatment was not received timely enough by patients with diabetes and the devastating effect the complications can have. If this helps people manage their own condition better, then it is welcomed step forward, both for the individual and the NHS in terms of freeing up time and resources. ”
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