More than 60,000 people with diabetes in Norfolk and Waveney denied ‘life-changing’ technology, charity claims
PUBLISHED: 09:43 16 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:43 16 May 2018
Adults and children with diabetes in Norfolk are being denied a new life-changing technology that could help them safely manage their condition.
The claim comes from charity Diabetes UK, who dubbed the situation a “postcode lottery” over whether patients could easily self-monitor their blood glucose levels.
This is usually done with a finger prick blood test using a meter that indicates the blood glucose level at the time of the test. People with diabetes who use insulin often need to test many times a day.
But a device called Flash Glucose Monitoring can instead be worn which records blood sugar levels continuously.
It can be read by scanning the sensor whenever needed but commissioners - who buy health services for Norfolk and Waveney - have refused to fund the device, despite it being available on the NHS since November.
More than 60,000 people in Norfolk have diabetes, including 10-year-old KD Dunford, from Norwich.
And the youngster’s grandmother, Di Dunford, said the monitor was an “absolute lifesaver”.
KD was diagnosed when he was six and very rarely wants to test his blood, especially at night.
Ms Dunford said: “Flash GM technology helps tremendously, everyone who cares for him can use the sensor to get an indication of blood levels, we depend on this to know when he needs treatment or correction. I could not check him at night without the technology as he refuses to let me finger prick.
“We self-fund. We have to. KD would have very little control without it.
“It has drastically improved our quality of life as going out is so much better, we don’t have to find somewhere quiet and discreet for him to finger prick. Even in the middle of doing an activity he can quickly and discreetly check his levels. It is a complete godsend.
“We are able to more easily catch low blood glucose levels to prevent hypos and see in which direction the levels are going. On the other hand we can see when he going high and know that a correction is needed.
“This should be made available to everyone with Type 1 diabetes in the same way as essential medication. Type 1 is a potential killer and our children deserve the best treatment, support and technology available.”
Research released last month found while the traditional finger prick method cost the NHS around £1205 a year per patient, the flash system cost £234 less.
But this could vary based on how many tests a patient would do a day - The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends between four and 10.
Peter Shorrick, Diabetes UK east of England regional head, said: “People’s health should not depend on an unfair postcode lottery. Everyone should be able to access the care and treatments necessary to safely manage their condition.
“Because Flash makes it easier to monitor and better control blood sugar levels, it improves lives, can save money, and reduces the risk of serious diabetes-related complications such as amputations and blindness.
“The NHS agreed to provide access in November, but people with diabetes in this region have already been waiting for too long. All CCGs should now have a policy providing access to Flash for free on prescription, so that everyone who can benefit from it, will.”
More than 7,000 people have backed the Diabetes UK campaign for access to Flash glucose monitoring everywhere in the UK and a third of areas already prescribe it.
A spokesperson for the CCGs in Norfolk and Waveney said: “We want to make sure that any patient who has a long-term condition has the right knowledge to be able to successfully manage their illness so that they can stay well.
“The Norfolk and Waveney Therapeutics Advisory Group is currently reviewing the Flash glucose test, as well as the patient groups which could benefit from the product, and is expected to make a decision on whether it will recommend its use in certain local patients imminently.
“However, it is important to note that Flash measures glucose differently to the finger prick test, and may take up to two hours to give an accurate reading after a meal. Patients using Flash would also still need to carry out finger prick tests to monitor their blood glucose levels before driving or when deciding on their insulin dose.”