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NHS refuses to fund special device for diabetes sufferer Carly Sullivan, 9,

By Rachael Woods

Little Carly Sullivan's fingers are less sore now the Type 1 diabetes sufferer doesn't have to prick them repeatedly with a needle to test her blood sugar levels.

The nine-year-old who lives in Kingsnorth, Ashford, is one of the lucky ones because her family is funding the £910 a year cost for her to have a flash glucose monitor - a sensor attached to the skin that continually and painlessly monitors blood glucose.

But the technology which has been available on the NHS in other parts of the UK since November - but not in Kent - is now at the centre of a battle.

Kelli Sullivan and daughter Carly, who had to take 16 blood samples per day until she got a monitoring device
Kelli Sullivan and daughter Carly, who had to take 16 blood samples per day until she got a monitoring device

Gary Fagg, chairman of the Paula Carr Diabetes Trust, based at the William Harvey hospital, says he will consider a legal challenge to the "postcode lottery" if Kent clinical commissioning groups do not agree to fund what his says if a life-changing kit.

Carly is his granddaughter and her life has been transformed since getting a FreeStyle Libre monitor, which also keeps an eight-hour record of readings.

He says that the Kingsnorth Primary School pupil no longer has to be routinely taken out of class between meals for testing as her monitor can be swiped for an instant report.

Her mum Kelli, 44, said: “Carly had to finger-prick around 14 to 15 times a day on top of four daily insulin injections.

"Her fingers are so tiny and sore that it was devastating.

"I had to wake her up late at night to test her too as I was worried that she would fall into a coma if her sugars went too low.

Carly using the flash monitor
Carly using the flash monitor

“She was half asleep when I had to feed her biscuits because her sugar levels were borderline.

“Now I can just swipe the monitor and it also tells me the direction the levels are going - up or down.”

Mr Fagg has the backing of Diabetes UK which says that diabetes sufferers are being denied "life-changing technology" enabling them to safely manage their condition.

The charity says that good management of the condition is key to avoiding later serious complications of the disease such as amputation, blindness or a stroke.

It issued a statement condemning the health inequality, saying: “Diabetes UK is urging local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the county to make this new technology available as soon as possible.

"CCGs across Kent are presently not prescribing Flash, while in neighbouring parts of Sussex such as Brighton and Hove are offering it for free on prescription."

The monitoring device which the NHS in Kent won't fund
The monitoring device which the NHS in Kent won't fund

Matt Hopkins, improving care manager in Kent at Diabetes UK, said: “People’s health should not depend on an unfair postcode lottery.

"Everyone should be able to access the care and treatments necessary to safely manage their condition.”

He added: “It is up to Kent’s eight individual CCGs to decide whether to make Flash available locally.

"We urge them to implement this important technology as soon as possible so people can gain access to it.”

A spokesman for the NHS in Kent said: “The NHS has a duty to make sure that all patients get the best support and treatment available and we have collectively made significant investments to improve treatment and education for people with diabetes.

“We also have a duty to ensure that NHS money is spent on items which are clinically effective.

"That is why we are in the process of reviewing the available evidence on FreeStyle Libre before making a decision on whether it should be made available locally on prescription.

"A decision will be made in due course.”

Ros Debling with her FreeStyle Libre flash monitoring device
Ros Debling with her FreeStyle Libre flash monitoring device

Meanwhile, Ros Debling who lives in Woodchurch Road, Tenterden, says her life has been transformed since getting a FreeStyle Libre flash monitoring device.

The Type 1 diabetic who has been a trustee of the Paula Carr Diabetes Trust for 26 years, has been self-funding the monitor for 18 months.

She said: "It's made my life so much easier and while finger-pricking works it hurts.

"I can check with device a hundred times a day without it hurting and it shows whether my blood sugar levels are going up or down.

"I don't get in the car without checking it.

"Everyone who owns the device says what a difference it makes."

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