NHS England tells CCGs to end postcode lottery over blood glucose monitoring

CCGs will be expected to make wearable sensors that allow continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels available to all eligible patients with type 1 diabetes from April next year, NHS England has said.

NHS England said the technology would give patients greater confidence to manage their diabetes (Photo: iStock.com/6okean)
NHS England said the technology would give patients greater confidence to manage their diabetes (Photo: iStock.com/6okean)

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the move would end the postcode lottery, which has seen patients in some parts of the country denied access to the Freestyle Libre device.

Patients will be able to receive the sensor ‘on prescription from their local GP or diabetes team’ from April, NHS England said.

Currently around 3-5% of patients with type 1 diabetes in England have access to the monitoring system however, if current guidance was followed, this could rise to at least 20-25% of patients, NHS England said.

It highlighted guidance from the Regional Medicines Optimisation Committee, which sets out which patients should be prescribed Freestyle Libre (see box below).

Continuous glucose monitoring

The Freestyle Libre is the size of a £2 coin and sits on a patient’s arm, relaying glucose level readings to a smart phone or e-reader.

NHS England said that the technology would give patients greater confidence to manage their condition because they would be able to more easily notice when their sugar levels were starting to rise or fall and take action earlier.

Dr Partha Kar, NHS England associate national clinical director for diabetes, said: ‘This is an exciting and welcome step forward as the aim is to have uniform prescribing policy across the NHS, irrespective of where someone with type 1 diabetes lives. This will be based on previous national guidance issued – with the provision of updating it as further evidence accrues.’

Mr Stevens added: ‘As the NHS prepares to put digital health and technology at the heart of our long term plan for the future, NHS England is taking important action so that regardless of where you live, if you’re a patient with type 1 diabetes you can reap the benefits of this life improving technology.’

Who should receive Freestyle Libre?

The Regional Medicines Optimisation Committee (North) recommendeds that patients, aged four and above, meeting one or more of the following criteria should be prescribed the device:

  • Patients who undertake intensive monitoring at least eight times daily.
  • Those who meet the current NICE criteria for insulin pump therapy (HbA1c >8.5% (69.4mmol/mol) or disabling hypoglycemia as described in NICE TA151) where a successful trial of Freestyle Libre may avoid the need for pump therapy.
  • Those who have recently developed impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia.
  • Frequent admissions (>2 per year) with DKA or hypoglycaemia.
  • Those who require third parties to carry out monitoring and where conventional blood testing is not possible.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Government stripped of power to suspend pensions for doctors facing unproven charges

Government stripped of power to suspend pensions for doctors facing unproven charges

Controversial powers allowing the government to suspend pension payments for doctors...

RCGP pulls plug on oil and gas conference after protests

RCGP pulls plug on oil and gas conference after protests

The RCGP has cancelled an oil and gas exploration conference booked to take place...

BMA to hold special conference after GP leaders reject 2020 contract offer

BMA to hold special conference after GP leaders reject 2020 contract offer

GP leaders have voted to hold a special conference after rejecting a package of contract...

Promise of 6,000 more GPs 'a pipedream' without investment, NHS leaders warn

Promise of 6,000 more GPs 'a pipedream' without investment, NHS leaders warn

Government promises to deliver 6,000 more GPs and 50m appointments are no more than...

Flu tracker: How flu levels are affecting GP workload across the UK

Flu tracker: How flu levels are affecting GP workload across the UK

Flu levels have spiked early in the 2019/20 season. Keep track of how levels of the...

Pension tax plan 'will fail to solve NHS workforce crisis', BMA warns

Pension tax plan 'will fail to solve NHS workforce crisis', BMA warns

BMA leaders have warned that raising the income threshold at which tax on pensions...