BREAKING: NHS England announces “end” of postcode lottery for type 1 diabetes flash technology

Posted on 14 November 2018

Flash glucose monitor on arm with reader showing measurement

Tens of thousands more people with type 1 diabetes across England will now benefit from flash glucose monitoring, the NHS has announced.

NHS England said today that it will ensure the Freestyle Libre device, which helps people with type 1 diabetes manage their condition, is available on prescription for all patients in England who qualify for it, in line with NHS clinical guidelines.  This suggests local Clinical Commissioning Groups will no longer have the power to say ‘no’ to supplying the device in their area – thus hopefully ending the postcode lottery.

The technology, which uses a sensor to monitor glucose levels, was made available for local clinical commissioners to provide to people with type 1 diabetes a year ago. But access to it has been dependent on factors including where people live in the UK.

NHS commissioning bodies in Northern Ireland, Wales and most of Scotland have already agreed to provide the technology, although criteria affecting who receives it has varied. Areas of England have lagged behind.

From April 2019, patients across England will be able to receive the Freestyle Libre on prescription from their local GP or diabetes team, if they meet the clinical criteria.

JDRF – which recently merged with Input – as well as Diabetes UK have been campaigning on this for the past year and last week jointly signed a letter calling for all Clinical Commissioning Groups and their equivalents to have a supportive policy in order to open up access to flash and reduce the health inequality caused by ‘postcode lotteries’.

Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, said:

“This should end the inequality of people being refused access to this life-changing type 1 diabetes technology depending on where they happen to live.

“We welcome this announcement by NHS England, as we have been campaigning for precisely this for over a year.

“Training must be provided to ensure all healthcare professionals can support people with type 1 diabetes with this much-needed device.”

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