In a major victory for type 1 diabetes campaigners, NHS England has agreed to freely provide continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to women with type 1 diabetes during pregnancy.
NHS England announced in its Long Term Plan, published this morning, that within two years all pregnant women living in England with the condition will be provided with these wearable medical devices.
Today’s announcement follows a JDRF-funded international study of pregnant women in 2017 that was the very first to confirm the benefits of CGMs during pregnancy. It provided crucial evidence that pregnant women with type 1 diabetes using the device had better blood glucose control and healthier babies.
JDRF and partner organisations then took this evidence and submitted it to England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2018. NICE subsequently agreed to update its Diabetes in Pregnancy Guidelines with a focus on CGMs.
CGMs are small wearable devices that can sound alarms if blood glucose levels get too high or too low. The device reduces the number of daily finger prick checks.
CGMs have not been available on the NHS for the majority of those living with type 1 diabetes, including pregnant women. NICE guidelines from 2015 only recommended CGMs for pregnant women if they are experiencing severe hypoglycaemia (dangerously low blood glucose levels.) Some have spent thousands of pounds on the technology because of the lack of NHS access.
JDRF is working to establish the implications of today’s NHS England announcement for women planning pregnancy in other parts of the UK. It is unconfirmed whether NHS bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow NHS England’s move.
JDRF’s Chief Executive in the UK, Karen Addington, took time to thank JDRF supporters and partner organisations who helped JDRF push for this victory in England. She also highlighted the role of NHS England’s type 1 diabetes clinical lead, Dr Partha Kar, for his role in securing this and other tech opportunities for people with type 1 diabetes.
Karen said: “Type 1 diabetes can be tough to live with. Pregnant women with the condition face particular challenges. Today’s news will help keep mothers and their babies healthy. It will help set world standards for provision of medical technology for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. We’re delighted. But we’ll keep pushing for better provision of all type 1 diabetes tech for all kinds of people with the condition – right across the UK.”
She added: “This victory is thanks in large part to the strength of JDRF research. It was also achieved by the determination of JDRF supporters, Dr Partha Kar, NHS England, Diabetes UK and other committed collaborators.”
The JDRF-funded international study in 2017 that first confirmed the benefits of CGMs during pregnancy had recruitment support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The study was named CONCEPTT and was published in The Lancet.
You can read the full NHS Long Term Plan here.
JDRF has a put together a guide on pregnancy and type 1 diabetes. The pregnancy toolkit explains the disease management goals for pregnancy as well as how to obtain the best possible support from healthcare providers at every stage.