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Rollout of high-tech diabetes monitors ahead of schedule

12:00am | & Health

Nearly 30,000 people across the country with Type 1 diabetes have received life-changing wearable monitors as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

This innovative device – the size of a £2 coin and worn on the arm ­­– means people with Type 1 don’t need to carry out multiple painful finger-prick checks to monitor their blood sugar levels. Instead, the monitor constantly checks the wearer’s blood sugar levels, relaying the information to a smartphone app or e-reader.

People with Type 1 diabetes who have low blood sugar levels are at risk of hypoglycaemia, which can involve seizures and a loss of consciousness. Those with high blood sugar levels can be at risk of serious long term health conditions, such as blindness and heart problems if left untreated.

The NHS Long Term Plan included a commitment to equip a minimum of 50,000 eligible people with the new monitors. Almost 30,000 received theirs within the first three months of the monitors being made available, putting the programme ahead of schedule. It follows changes made in April which meant people who are medically eligible for a monitor can get one on prescription, regardless of where they live in the country.

Professor Partha Kar, NHS National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes, said: “Providing flash monitors on the NHS is a huge leap forward and it is fantastic to see the roll-out make an instant impact. I’m thrilled with how many people are already benefiting from the device and doing away with inconvenient finger-prick checks.

“Less than a year into delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan, tens of thousands of people are experiencing first-hand the difference that cutting edge treatments on the NHS are making for people living with Type 1 diabetes across the country.”

One patient who began using an NHS-funded monitor in April is 23-year-old Olivia, from a seaside town in Essex, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged seven. She said: “Since using the monitor, I’ve seen a huge improvement in my blood sugar levels as I can make informed decisions when taking my insulin by looking at trends.

“Above all, it’s helped me have more confidence and improved my mental wellbeing. I find it easier to sleep knowing that my blood sugar is stable before I go to bed and I can confidently get in my car and drive off knowing I’m at a safe level to drive and my sugars aren’t dropping.”

People who qualify for the monitor include:

  • People with type 1 diabetes who need intensive monitoring (more than eight times every day) as demonstrated in a review over the past three months.
  • People with diabetes associated with Cystic Fibrosis on insulin.
  • Pregnant women with Type 1 Diabetes for 12 months in total.
  • People with Type 1 diabetes who are unable to routinely self-monitor blood glucose due to disability.

Prevention Minister, Jo Churchill said: “It’s fantastic that tens of thousands of patients are already benefiting from the rollout of the latest wearable health technology. We’re putting the power back in the hands of people with Type 1 diabetes, so they can more easily manage their condition from their smartphone. I look forward to these numbers growing, as more people are empowered to use this innovative technology to improve their quality of life.”

The NHS Long Term Plan also sets out world leading action to help people with Type 2 diabetes, including doubling capacity of the Diabetes Prevention Programme so 200,000 people a year can benefit along with trialling new very low calorie diets.

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