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GPs must prescribe sufficient glucose testing strips

Cost of diabetes complications far outweighs that of strips

Louise Prime

Friday, 08 February 2013

The Department of Health has reminded GPs that they must prescribe sufficient finger prick testing strips for people with type 1 diabetes.

The All Party Parliamentary Group met health minister Anna Soubry to discuss the charity Diabetes UK’s “considerable” concerns that increasing numbers of people with type 1 diabetes are not being prescribed enough testing strips to properly carry out self-blood glucose measurement (SBGM).

As a result of this meeting, the National Clinical Director for Diabetes, Dr Rowan Hillson, wrote to GPs, pharmacists and hospital doctors: “Diabetes UK and other stakeholders describe increasing numbers of people with type 1 diabetes being refused prescriptions for sufficient SBGM testing strips to be able to carry out daily testing needed to safely and confidently self-manage their diabetes.”

She said: “SBGM is essential for safety checks when feeling unwell, or in situations when the blood glucose might fall too low or too high,” and added out that people with insulin-treated diabetes are obliged by DVLA always to carry their blood glucose meter and testing strips, and to check their blood glucose level before they start a journey and every two hours thereafter.

Dr Hillson also warned that the incidence of diabetic ketoacidosis is increasing, with 8472 cases reported in England and Wales in 2010/11, and said testing strips are essential to identifying the condition at the earliest opportunity.

She said that the cost of the strips should not be used to excuse their restriction. “While testing strips dispensed in primary care may appear to have a premium cost, the wider costs to the patient’s quality of life, their safety and ability to work and to the NHS of complications of uncontrolled diabetes far outweigh these costs,” she wrote.

“GPs and pharmacists should work collaboratively with patients to ensure the optimal amount of testing strips are prescribed and supplied to type 1 diabetics. Too few can lead to serious clinical consequences. Too many can lead to wastage.”

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