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Shortages see diabetes patients go without 'vital' testing strips

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Testing strips measure glucose levels in diabetics Testing strips measure glucose levels in diabetics

More and more diabetic patients are being refused vital equipment to monitor their glucose levels due to ‘rationing’ in the health service, a Diabetes UK report has revealed.

Shortages in the vital testing strips were revealed by the Testing Times report published on 6 April which showed one in four people had experienced restrictions to test strip access in the NHS, compared to one in five in 2013.

The UK wide survey for Diabetes UK also found more than 52% of people experiencing problems getting test strips had Type 1 diabetes. NICE recommends all adults with Type 1 diabetes routinely self-monitor blood glucose levels, testing at least four times a day.

People with diabetes use test strips in blood glucose monitors that help them to be more in control of the condition. If not managed well, it can lead to complications such as amputations, blindness, heart disease and stroke.

Colin Frampton from Winchester, Hampshire, was paying for test strips out of his pension when his GP surgery had restricted his allowance to 50 test strips for 12 months meaning he could only test his blood glucose only once a week. After challenging his GP surgery, his prescription for test strips was increased.

The 86-year-old said: ‘I’ve had Type 2 diabetes for nine years and take it very seriously. I’ve had to deal with lots of other health issues over a number of years including being blind and in a wheelchair. Keeping on top of my blood glucose levels by testing regularly, at least a couple of times a week, means I can reduce the risk of my health deteriorating even further.

‘It’s shocking that some doctors don’t see the importance of regular testing. If I see my blood sugar is high, I can do something about it. If I didn’t challenge my GP, I’d still have to take money out of my pension to help me manage my condition.’

Diabetes UK said it is also concerned people with Type 2 say they were advised they did not need to test their blood sugar, but they should if their diabetes is treated with insulin or medication that can cause hypoglycaemia.

NICE are set to review their guidance on self-monitoring for people with Type 2 and Diabetes UK has asked the NHS to make sure local policies reflect NICE guidance on self-monitoring for people with Type 1.

Diabetes UK is calling for guidance at a national level across the UK to make sure that everyone with diabetes gets the kit they need to self-manage effectively.

Diabetes UK Policy Manager Nikki Joule, said: “No one with Type 1 diabetes should have their test strips restricted. It is a false economy and causes people to face stressful decisions about when to test or not. We urge people to challenge restrictions and refusals.’

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