NHS set to make wearable glucose monitor widely available

November 15, 2018

Wearable glucose monitors will be made available to tens of thousands of Brits with type 1 diabetes from April 2019, thanks to the NHS.

The new wearable reduces the need for finger-prick blood tests and helps people with diabetes to manage their condition.

In England, around 300,000 people live with type 1 diabetes.

The Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system, used by Prime Minister Theresa May, who has the autoimmune condition, was made available on the NHS last November.

The glucose monitoring device uses a tiny sensor inserted under the skin of the arm which is connected to a small transmitter patch on the surface of the skin.

The sensor reads blood sugar levels from fluid just beneath the skin and transmits them wirelessly to a display on a portable reader held near the sensor.

The technology reduces the need for finger-prick blood tests and can make it much easier for people with diabetes to manage their condition.

BBC journalist Lauren Turner has had type 1 diabetes for 14 years and has tried using a flash glucose monitor.

“I’ve used the Libre, and compared to pricking my fingers – which I do about eight to 10 times a day, it’s revolutionary,” she says.

“I’m now waiting to find out when I can get it on prescription.”

It doesn’t work for everyone, as some prefer to use other systems, like continuous glucose monitors.

However, the Libre shows the last eight hours of data, in the form of a graph.

“That’s a world away from just getting a number on your monitor when you finger prick, with no clue as to what the bigger picture is,” added Turner.

“I find it more convenient too, as you can scan over the top of clothes – it’s like swiping a contactless bank card.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said the announcement would be welcome news to the many thousands of people with type 1 diabetes whose lives will now be changed for the better by access to flash glucose monitoring.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said digital health and technology would be at the heart of NHS England’s long-term plan.

“NHS England is taking important action so that regardless of where you live, if you’re a patient with type 1 diabetes you can reap the benefits of this life-improving technology.”

Karen Addington, chief executive of type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, said, “This should end the inequality of people being refused access to this life-changing type 1 diabetes technology depending on where they happen to live.”

However, she added that adequate training should be provided to make sure all healthcare professionals knew how to support people using the device.


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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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