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More diabetics set to benefit from flash glucose monitors on NHS

Funding allocated for GPs to prescribe flash monitors from April

Adrian O'Dowd

Friday, 08 March 2019

Around 20% of people with type 1 diabetes across the whole of England are expected to benefit from using flash glucose monitors, available on the NHS from next month.

NHS England yesterday published clinical guidance for the monitors, outlining funding arrangements for local health groups and the criteria for who qualifies for the technology – a small sensor worn on the skin that measures the amount of glucose in the fluid surrounding the body cells.


Of people with a diagnosis of diabetes, an estimated 260,000 in England have type 1.

In November of last year, NHS England announced patients across England would be able to receive the Freestyle Libre on prescription from their diabetes team, if they met the clinical criteria. Currently, in England around 30% of CCGs do not prescribe Flash.

The clinical criteria has now been updated and published with details of additional funding to allow all areas to prescribe the technology.

The criteria now takes into account self-funders who currently pay for their own because they did not qualify for NHS provision.

Whilst there are still limitations to access, the postcode lottery for this technology across the whole of  England has now effectively ended.

From April, the NHS will provide the technology for a fifth of these people in England and those who qualify include:

  • people with type 1 diabetes who need intensive monitoring (more than eight times every day) as demonstrated in a review over the past three months
  • people with diabetes associated with Cystic Fibrosis on insulin
  • pregnant women with type 1 Diabetes for 12 months in total
  • people with type 1 diabetes unable to routinely self-monitor blood glucose due to disability
  • people with type 1 diabetes for whom the specialist diabetes MDT determines have occupational or psychosocial circumstances that warrant a six-month trial of Libre with appropriate support.

Patients will be able to receive it on prescription from their local GP or diabetes team, helping them to better manage their blood sugar level and NHS England will reimburse local health groups for costs of the wearable sensors.

The pioneering technology should help people with type 1 diabetes achieve better health outcomes and benefits for patients include:

  • easily noticing when sugar levels are starting to rise or drop, so action can be taken earlier
  • giving patients more confidence in managing their own condition
  • not having to do as many finger-prick checks.

Dr Partha Kar, associate national clinical director for diabetes at NHS England, said: “This is an important step forward for the NHS and for people with type 1 diabetes.

“The guidance published today confirms the NHS’ commitment to improving the care of those with type 1 diabetes and signals an end to the variation in availability to the life changing technology.”

The type 1 diabetes charity JDRF chief executive officer in the UK, Karen Addington said: “We are delighted that these new guidelines will effectively end the inequity of access to flash glucose monitoring that people living with type 1 diabetes have experienced, based simply on where they live in England.

“JDRF has worked with NHS England and partners to secure this outcome and look forward to supporting the implementation in April.”


*Flash Glucose Monitoring: National arrangements for funding of relevant diabetes patients. NHS England, 7 March 2019.
Image courtesy of JDRF

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