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Guidance released on roll out of digital glucose monitors in England

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Clinical guidance has been published to support the roll out of digital glucose monitors on the NHS for patients with type 1 diabetes in England.

New guidance from NHS England has today outlined funding arrangements for local health groups along with the criteria for who qualifies for the Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitor, in a drive to end the inequity of patient access to the product.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, tens of thousands of patients with type 1 diabetes are expected to benefit from the life changing monitors when they are provided by the NHS from next month.

The wearable glucose monitor, which is the size of a £2 coin and sits on the arm, aims to help patients better manage their blood sugar levels.

According to the national commissioning body NHS England, the pioneering technology will be provided to one in five of those with the condition.

Under the guidance, those who qualify 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 type 1 diabetes associated with cystic fibrosis on insulin treatment
  • Pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes – 12 months in total
  • People with type 1 diabetes unable to routinely self-monitor blood glucose due to disability
  • People with type 1 diabetes for whom the specialist diabetes multi-disciplinary team determines have occupational or psychosocial circumstances that warrant a six-month trial of Libre with appropriate support

NHS England has stated that the new technology should help people with diabetes achieve better health outcomes, by helping them to easily notice when sugar glucose are starting to rise or drop, so that action can be taken earlier.

In addition, the monitors aim to help reduce the amount of times a finger-prick check is needed and will give patients more confidence in managing their own condition.

The monitors will be available on prescription from a patients’ local GP or diabetes team and NHS England has said it will reimburse local health groups for costs of the wearable sensors.

“The guidance published today confirms the NHS’ commitment to improving the care of those with type 1 diabetes”

Partha Kar

NHS England described the move as an attempt to end the current variation that patients in some parts of the country are facing to access the product.

Dr Partha Kar, associate national clinical director at Diabetes UK, said: “This is an important step forward for the NHS and for people with type 1 diabetes.

“The guidance published today confirms the NHS’ commitment to improving the care of those with type 1 diabetes and signals an end to the variation in availability to the life changing technology,” he said.

JDRF – formerly called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – is a type 1 diabetes charity and funder of research about the condition.

Chief executive officer of the charity in the UK, Karen Addington, said: “We are delighted that these new guidelines will effectively end the inequity of access to flash glucose monitoring that people living with type 1 diabetes have experienced, based simply on where they live in England.

“JDRF has worked with NHS England and partners to secure this outcome and look forward to supporting the implementation in April,” she said.

Of those with a diagnosis of diabetes, an estimated 260,000 in England have type 1 diabetes, NHS England noted.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Will there be any training for Primary Care nurses? I look after patients with Type 1 Diabetes, who do not attend secondary care services. I have very little experience of this product and worry about how to access the information I will need.

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