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Half of NHS Type 1 diabetes patients in England are now benefiting from the use of “life-changing” flash monitors that allow them to check their glucose levels more easily and regularly, paving the way for more people to benefit.
Health service chief executive Amanda Pritchard, patient groups and senior clinicians have welcomed the milestone, showing that the NHS is ahead of target to roll-out the monitors, as the independent health advisory NICE, confirmed it was beginning to consult on expanding access to the convenient and effective kit.
The most recent figures show that around 125,000, or half, of patients living with Type 1 diabetes are now using these monitors to help control their condition.
The insight from the successful roll-out by NHS England has helped to inform the case for potential wider use of these technologies to benefit patients living with Type 1 diabetes, and potentially those living with Type 2 diabetes, as the health service continues to improve care for people with both forms of the condition.
The NHS Long Term Plan included a target to ensure 20% of people with Type 1 diabetes were benefiting from flash monitors by March 2021.
Data for March shows the NHS significantly exceeded that goal, with the actual percentage of those benefiting hitting more than 45% – double the target, with uptake by July hitting half of eligible people.
Eligible patients are currently able to access the monitors on prescription from their local GP or diabetes team, helping them to better manage their blood sugar levels.
The wearable gadgets have a sensor that easily attaches to the back of the arm, allowing patients to check their glucose quickly and easily with a simple one-second scan.
The monitors link to an easy-to-use app on your phone, where patients can access the data gathered by the device.
Unlike conventional blood glucose monitors they allow you to view patterns over time, not only showing current and previous levels but also where they’re headed.
Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive, said: “Flash glucose monitoring is a great example of where technology and digital solutions can help individuals to live more independent lives, better manage their own conditions, and avoid more acute health problems developing.
“It is a testament to the hard work of NHS colleagues working across diabetes care that we have managed to roll out these devices to half of Type 1 patients and that the real world data is helping to inform potential future service development in this area”.
Dr Partha Kar, NHS England’s National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes, said: “The high uptake in people with Type 1 diabetes is a clear example of the NHS’ commitment to improving care for people living with this condition and it’s down to the hard work of NHS staff that we’ve managed to roll these out at such a pace, smashing our target of offering to 20% of those eligible by March.
I am delighted that NICE has started consulting on wider use of the technology and we thank them for working with us on this. We look forward to implementing the final recommendations from NICE, following the consultation period”.
Marcel Somerville, star of Love Island and a member of Blazin’ Squad, said: “When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I was worried about managing the condition.
“Since I got my flash monitor, it has made life so much easier on a day-to-day basis as I know it will help me live with diabetes while getting on with everything I want to do. I’m very pleased to hear most people in England with type 1 feel the same way as I do”.
Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said: “We are pleased to see such great strides being made in ensuring more people with type 1 diabetes have access to flash monitors on the NHS. This technology transforms the lives of those using it, improving both their quality of life and their diabetes self-management.
“We also know that, for those who do have access to flash monitors, it has been particularly beneficial while face-to-face diabetes care has been understandably limited during the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We look forward to continuing to work with NHS England and others to ensure those who can benefit from this life-changing technology have access to it”.