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Low numbers prescribed ‘game-changing’ diabetes technology

By Editor
26th July 2018
Charity, Commissioning Medical devices Technology Type 1 diabetes Type 2 prevention

Concerns have been raised over the low number of people with diabetes who have been prescribed the FreeStyle Libre system following the results of a nationwide investigation.

The “game-changing” device was made available on the NHS last November, subject to approval by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

However, results from Freedom of Information requests carried out by the charity the InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) show just 30 out of the 144 CCGs which responded have prescribed the system to just 174 people.

In response to a question on which criteria decisions about prescribing the FreeStyle Libre system are made, 23 CCGs failed to provide any data.

These figures are at odds with stats provided by Diabetes UK which show 9,690 across Britain have been prescribed the technology since November, which is still a low proportion representing less than 2 per cent of the 500,000 eligible people.

Regional guidelines

In the IDDT’s investigation, just 27 CCGs adhered to either local or regional guidelines or both. A further 14 followed advice from the Regional Medicines Optimisation Committee (RMOC) and only one CCG based their decision on NICE guidelines.

The flash glucose system automatically reads glucose levels through a sensor, approximately the size of a £2 coin, worn on the back of the upper arm for up to 14 days, eliminating the need for routine finger pricks and user calibration.

The results show a postcode lottery clearly exists in the prescribing of the FreeStyle Libre system.

Martin Hirst, IDDT chief executive

It is designed to change how people with diabetes measure their glucose levels and ultimately help them achieve better health outcomes.

Two clinical trials and real-world evidence from more than 50,000 users worldwide show that people who use the FreeStyle Libre system scan their glucose levels an average of at least 15 times per day. In real-world use, higher rates of scanning to self-monitor glucose were found to be strongly associated with improved blood glucose levels and potentially reducing long-term complications.

Martin Hirst, IDDT chief executive, said: “The results show a postcode lottery clearly exists in the prescribing of the FreeStyle Libre system.

“What is disappointing is the number of CCGs who fail to even recommend this pioneering technology which has the ability to fundamentally change the management of diabetes and improve the immediate and long-term healthcare of those who require its use.

“The FreeStyle Libre clearly improves management of diabetes in many areas of life. It is a substantial step forward in diabetes management but further improvements need to be made.”

The IDDT is a Northampton-based charity providing vital independent support for people with diabetes, their parents and carers.

The charity formed in 1994 to fight for choice of treatment for all. It now provides a free, confidential helpline and has published many helpful publications. The Trust campaigns and lobbies the Government and professional organisations on behalf of its members.

There are four million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK. By 2025, it is estimated that in the UK five million people will have diabetes. In excess of 800,000 people remain undiagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Comments (2)

  1. Richard Kennard says:

    My wife who has had type 1 for over 50 years is now in a care home. Her diabetic control is erratic. Becasue she has dementia she cannot medicate herself, and neither can I as she is under the conrol of the home’s doctor and nuses. I have suggested I pay for a month’s trial of the Freestyle Libra to see if it would help but cannot get it approved. My last enquiry was met with ‘it’s not a reliable system’.

  2. Teresa Harris says:

    The criteria for granting Freestyle Libra on the NHS are “not fit for purpose”. Perhaps everyone who refuses to grant this medication aid should be compelled to stick a needle into their fingers 8-1o times a day and over a long period of time and then they might realize just how painful this is. What about those who develope needle phobia?? This is a right for diabetics of all ages and should NEVER be dictated by financial considerations.

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