Hundreds of thousands of people with type 1 diabetes in England are now using a “life-changing” gadget to help them manage the condition, health leaders have said.
NHS England said that more than 200,000 patients are now using a non-invasive glucose monitoring device, up by around 50,000 since the spring.
The devices help people to monitor their blood glucose levels through an app. This has prevented the need to take finger-prick tests or scans using a different type of monitor.
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin, which is required to help the body turn sugar into energy. This means patients need to take insulin manually through injections to prevent high blood glucose levels.
High blood glucose levels, also known as hyperglycaemia, can cause damage to the nerves in the hands and feet, damage to the eyes and sight and even life-threatening conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis.
Hundreds of thousands of glucose monitoring devices
This device helps patients to manage their condition with greater ease, providing a way to track their blood glucose levels consistently.
It is hoped that wider use of the technology will help patients manage their condition better while reducing illness and hospital admissions.
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Around eight in ten people with type 1 diabetes now have access to the technology, with almost two-thirds of local NHS areas now offering these devices to patients, NHS England said.
It comes after the organization announced in the summer that it had secured a deal with manufacturer DEXCOM to ensure these cost a similar price to flash monitors, which use a similar technology but require patients to repeatedly scan the device in their arm to check their vital statistics .
The newer wearable arm gadget uses a bottle-cap-sized sensor which attaches to the arm to measure glucose levels from just under the skin and sends information automatically to a mobile app and allows diabetes patients to always keep track of their glucose levels.
NHS England said the rollout was “going well above and beyond” its original target from 2019 to ensure 20% of people with type 1 diabetes would benefit from flash monitors.
The NHS is aiming for all 42 integrated care boards to be offering both monitors in 2023, with patients to be offered either monitor depending on their needs following consultation with a local clinician.
Professor Partha Kar, national specialty adviser for diabetes, said: “The NHS has revolutionized diabetes care over the past five years – we’ve seen people living with type 1 diabetes go from having almost no practical way to managing their condition in real-time , to have the option of a life-changing device that automatically alerts patients to potentially dangerous changes to their blood sugar levels.
“As a diabetes clinician, I’ve seen first-hand how liberating this device is for my patients, giving them the confidence to go about their days knowing they are safe and able to enjoy themselves.
“The majority of the NHS has already rolled out these new devices, but the NHS rollout will continue at pace to ensure both devices are available to every patient across the country by the end of next year.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay added: “Hundreds of thousands of patients now have access to this cutting-edge technology – helping them to better manage their diabetes whether they’re at home or on the move.
“It’s another example of how we’re using technology to improve outcomes for patients, while reducing pressure on frontline services and this will help reduce hospitalizations and diabetic illnesses.
“The NHS has rolled out these devices at pace, and even more patients stand to benefit from this life-saving technology from the spring.”