Coinciding with World Diabetes Day, the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, announced that NHS patients with Type 1 diabetes would all receive access to the Freestyle Libre, a glucose monitoring device that eliminates the need for painful finger-prick blood tests.
The Freestyle Libre is a small circular device, about the size of a £2 coin which the patient places on the arm. It can then relay glucose results to a smartphone or e-reader. From April 2019, the device will be available on prescription to all patients with Type 1 diabetes to help them better manage the condition.
This comes as a range of announcements from the NHS who is harnessing digital technology to improve treatments and care in the long-term for patients. It is devices like these that can help to equip patients with the tools and knowledge they need to manage their own condition.
The technology prevents the need for finger-prick tests as well as noticing a drop in sugar levels quickly so that action can be taken. As a result, it can help to give patients more confidence in managing their condition.
With the announcement, Simon Stevens said; “Supporting people with modern tools to manage conditions such as Type 1 diabetes is about to become much more widespread. Innovations such as these also free up time and resources for the NHS as a whole.”
While Dr Partha Kar, who is the Associate National Clinical Director for Diabetes at NHS England said; “This is an exciting and welcome step forward as the aim is to have uniform prescribing policy across the NHS, irrespective of where someone with Type 1 diabetes lives.”
At the moment only 3-5% of patients in England with Type 1 diabetes have access to the Freestyle Libre. However, this can now increase to 25%. At the moment only 144 out of 195 clinical commissioning groups have signed up which means many more patients will access the device although some patients will still be missing out.
Currently, there are around 300,000 people in the UK living with diagnosed Type 1 diabetes. However, approximately 940,000 people in the UK are living with undiagnosed diabetes.