An investigation by the BMJ has revealed that tens of thousands of UK patients with type 1 diabetes are being denied the potential benefits of “flash” glucose monitoring devices because they are not being recommended in some areas. The BMJ found a quarter of local NHS groups in England did not recommend them for patients. Some clinical commissioning groups have made the devices available to hundreds of patients, others have not made them available to anyone. Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre is currently the only such device available in the UK.
Partha Kar, NHS England‘s associate national clinical director for diabetes, estimates that just 3-5% of patients with type 1 diabetes in England are currently able to get the monitors on the NHS. If CCGs were following NHS England guidance correctly, this figure should be closer to 20-25%, if not higher. He said that some CCGs were merely paying “lip service” to offering the monitors.
Nikki Joule, from Diabetes UK, said patients were facing an “unfair postcode lottery”. She added the charity wanted to see all areas agree on policies for accessing the monitors.
It has also been reported that some diabetes sufferers were considering moving to a different GP practice a few miles down the road to get the monitor, while others were making “huge sacrifices” to pay for it themselves.
Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents CCGs, said: “Clinical commissioners have a responsibility to consider the needs of their whole populations, reduce inequalities, and improve quality of care while living within the funding they are given and it is right that they should follow a due process when considering new medicines and technologies to ensure they are making the most effective use of the limited NHS pound.”
Charlotte Measures, Senior Associate at Medical Accident Group said “I am saddened that in this day in age patients across the UK do not receive the same level of service from the NHS. I would be interested to talk to any diabetes sufferers that believe that they have been a victim of the ‘post code lottery’.”
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