Diabetes is one of the most serious public health problems facing the UK today. We need concerted action to support the estimated four million adults and children in the UK living with the condition. Patients need accessible, high-quality education and support and access to new technologies that will allow them to manage their condition and achieve positive outcomes.
New technologies, including flash glucose monitoring, make monitoring blood glucose more convenient for people than a standard blood glucose meter does and in turn those technologies can transform peoples’ lives. However, Diabetes UK have found that around half of all areas in England are not offering flash glucose monitoring and as a result people are unable to access these new technologies.
I hope the government will take steps to encourage clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across the country to increase uptake of flash glucose monitoring and that eventually work will be undertaken to look at increasing and improving access to diabetes technologies at a faster rate than patients currently experience.
Flash glucose meters cost around £1,300 a year – that represents a significant personal cost to many individuals who are unable to access these technologies through their CCG and who, in many cases, have little choice but to self-fund. We must recognise that diabetic technologies should not only be available to those who can afford to self-fund. Not only does this undermine the principle of a truly National Health Service but investment in new technologies could save the NHS vast amounts in the long-term.
That’s why, at the General Election last year, I stood on a manifesto with commitments to tackle the rationing of services and medicines across England and to take action to address postcode lotteries to ensure that the quality of care a patient receives does not depend on where they live in the country.
I will continue to urge the government to improve access to diabetes technologies and ensure that these are made available to NHS patients.