A new technology that is potentially life-changing for many people with Type 1 diabetes is now available on the NHS in Wales.
After Diabetes UK successfully campaigned to make Flash Glucose Monitoring available on the NHS last year, all seven of Wales’ Health Boards have approved its use. This means that those who meet certain criteria, agreed by consensus across the Health Boards, will for the first time be able to get Flash free of charge on prescription.
Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly. Many people with diabetes need to self-monitor their blood glucose levels. This is usually done with a finger-prick blood test using a meter that indicates the blood glucose level at the time of the test.
Flash Glucose Monitoring is a different technology which uses a small sensor that people wear on their skin. It records blood sugar levels continuously and can be read by scanning the sensor whenever needed. This can free people from the pain of frequent finger-prick testing, making it easier to keep on top of blood sugar levels.
The device can help with better control of the condition and, in turn, reduce the risk of developing serious diabetes-related complications such as amputation, blindness and stroke.
While in principle Flash technology is available on the NHS across the UK, its use is subject to approval by local health bodies, and there are still many areas where it is not being offered on prescription. Diabetes UK Cymru is proud that Wales is leading the way in making sure those who can benefit from the ground breaking technology gain access to it.
David, 27, from Newport, has Type 1 diabetes. He self-funded his Flash device for a year before his local Health Board approved its use. His diabetes care team gave him a prescription for Flash glucose monitoring in November 2017, and since then he has been using the device, along with finger prick testing, to check his blood glucose levels.
David said: “As soon as I found out about Flash glucose monitoring I got in touch with my diabetes team and kept asking them about it – I was very persistent. When my local Health Board approved it, the team sent a letter to my GP to ensure I received a prescription. I was one of the first people to be prescribed Flash in my area, at the time my doctor wasn’t even sure what it was!
“Flash has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I suffer from anxiety and worry a lot about managing my diabetes, but Flash technology means I can always know what my blood glucose levels are and take action before I have a hypo. Before Flash, I was too worried to travel far from home, but now I am able to travel to London on my own and stay overnight without being too anxious. I still use finger prick testing to make sure the numbers match up, but nowhere near as much.
“I was surprised I received Flash on prescription so soon, I got it almost straight away. I feel so lucky to live in Wales, where Flash is now an option that every doctor can offer. Having access to the latest diabetes technology and care should not be a postcode lottery, and I will continue to campaign in London to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity that I did.”
Dai Williams, National Director, Diabetes UK Cymru, said, “Flash Glucose Monitoring makes testing your blood glucose level incredibly simple and convenient for people with diabetes. It has been very popular among those already using the technology privately and we were delighted when it was made available free of charge on the NHS last year.
“We were even more pleased to see Health Boards across Wales wholeheartedly embracing this pioneering technology, and all agreeing to prescribe it if an individual meets certain criteria. We would encourage anyone who thinks they might benefit from Flash Glucose Monitoring to speak to their consultant.
“Wales is ahead of the curve on this issue, as sadly this isn’t the case for everyone living with diabetes across the UK.
“Diabetes UK is continuing to push local decision makers elsewhere to look to Wales as an example, and ensure that everyone with diabetes who could benefit from Flash can access it. We believe everyone with diabetes should have access to the right technology to support them, no matter where they live.”
To find out if Flash is right for you and what you need to do to access it, go to www.diabetes.org.uk/flash
You can also call the Diabetes UK helpline on 0345 123 2399, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm or email email@example.com