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Postcode lottery for diabetes monitors, claim patients

By Jack Dyson

Diabetics say a “postcode lottery” is preventing them from receiving hi-tech glucose monitoring equipment on the NHS.

The new technology – which reads glucose levels through a sensor – was made widely available on November 1.

Spelling the end of daily finger-prick blood tests for sufferers, it allows them to closely monitor their condition and reduces the risk of hypoglycaemic attacks when blood sugars fall dangerously low.

Freestyle Libre Sensors were added to the NHS drug tariff on November 1
Freestyle Libre Sensors were added to the NHS drug tariff on November 1

But local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have been left to decide if the FreeStyle Libre Sensors should be commissioned for their respective areas.

The NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG has not yet ruled whether the sensors can be prescribed in the area – a move which has frustrated those suffering from the chronic condition.

Buying just the starter pack alone would cost them £159.95, with the need to buy regular sensor replacements.

Debbie Williams, 53, from Herne Bay, who has suffered from the more severe type 1 diabetes for 40 years, said: “It’s £53 for a 14-day sensor, but my wages don’t stretch to having them all month.

“I’ve been buying just one per month recently, so for two weeks I get a really good insight into my diabetes, what my body’s doing, how I’m feeling and how much insulin I need.

Debbie Williams with her Freesyle Libra Sensor blood testing kit
Debbie Williams with her Freesyle Libra Sensor blood testing kit

“Elsewhere in the country people are getting it on the NHS, but here we can’t. It’s a postcode lottery.”

A spokesman for the NHS Canterbury and Coastal CCG says the sensors will be considered for commission in the new year.

He said: “FreeStyle Libre was included on the NHS Drug Tariff on November 1.

“However, before it can be prescribed across Kent and Medway it needs to be assessed by the local policy decision-making group, known as the Policy Recommendation and Guidance Committee (PRGC).

“New evidence and national and professional society guidance on FreeStyle Libre will be considered by the PRGC at their next meeting in January.

“Any new recommendation will need to subsequently be agreed by Kent and Medway CCGs.”

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