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NHS seeks to end ‘Postcode Lottery’ for innovative glucose technology

Case highlights need to reform access to technology for NHS patients.

Wearable ‘flash’ glucose monitors will be more widely available from April 2019, NHS England has announced today. Tens of thousands more people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) will now be able to get the device on the NHS, putting an end to the postcode lottery that has denied access to many.

techUK held the first ‘T1D: Rise of the Machines’ conference in February with more than 100 people with T1D and Associate National Clinical Director for Diabetes Dr Partha Kar. The conference highlighted innovations in T1D technology from companies including Abbott, Dexcom, Medtronic and Roche – but also the difficulties that NHS patients had in accessing those technologies without self-funding.

The Freestyle Libre device, made by techUK member Abbott, is now used by more than a million people worldwide, but only 3-5% of people with T1D were able to get the device on the NHS.

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens announced the news to mark World Diabetes Day 2018.

techUK’s Head of Health and Social Care Ben Moody, who uses the device, commented:

“This is great news for tens of thousands of people who have been unable to benefit from this technology.

But it also highlights a wider problem of access to technology on the NHS. We have been massively fortunate to have the backing of advocates like Dr Partha Kar and the NHS England Diabetes team, but it’s been an uphill struggle and the device will be almost 5 years old when this funding kicks in. Lifechanging, innovative devices will be coming thick and fast in this area over the next couple of years and we don’t want NHS patients to have to wait five years to benefit from them.”

In advance of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock’s keynote speech at our industry dinner tonight, techUK is publishing a ‘Manifesto for Matt’, highlighting how a wider expansion of the personal budgets programme could allow people to access this type of technology in a much quicker and more equitable way.


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