Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin (Image credit: PA)
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 more than 200,000 patients are now using a non-invasive glucose monitoring device, an increase of around 50,000 since the spring.
The devices help people monitor their blood glucose levels through an app. This avoided the need to perform 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 needed to help the body turn sugar into energy. This means that patients have to take insulin manually through injections to prevent high blood glucose levels.
High blood glucose levels, also known as hyperglycemia, can cause nerve damage in the hands and feet, eye and vision damage, and even life-threatening conditions like diabetic ketoacidosis.
Hundreds of thousands of glucose monitoring devices
This device helps patients manage their condition more easily by providing a way to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels.
It is hoped that wider use of the technology will help patients better manage their conditions by reducing illness and hospitalisations.
Around eight in ten people with type 1 diabetes now have access to the technology, with nearly two-thirds of local NHS areas now offering these devices to patients, NHS England said.
It comes after the organization announced in the summer it had struck a deal with manufacturer DEXCOM to ensure these cost a similar price to flash monitors, which use similar technology but require patients to repeatedly scan the device in their arm to check their vital stats. .
The new wearable arm gadget uses a bottle cap-sized sensor that attaches to the arm to measure glucose levels just under the skin and automatically sends the information to a mobile app and allows diabetic patients to always keep track of their glucose levels.
NHS England said the rollout was “going far beyond” its original 2019 target to ensure 20% of people with type 1 diabetes could benefit from flash monitors.
The NHS aims for all 42 integrated care councils to offer both monitors in 2023, with patients to be offered both monitors depending on their needs following consultation with a local doctor.
National diabetes specialist adviser Professor Partha Kar said: ‘The NHS has revolutionized diabetes care over the past five years – we have seen people living with type 1 diabetes go from having almost no practical way to manage their condition in real time, to have the option of a life-changing device that automatically alerts patients to potentially dangerous changes in their blood sugar levels.
“As a diabetes physician, I have seen firsthand how liberating this device is for my patients, giving them the confidence to go about their day knowing they are safe and able to enjoy themselves.
“Most of the NHS have already rolled out these new devices, but the NHS rollout will continue at pace to ensure both devices are available to all patients 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, which helps them better manage their diabetes, whether at home or on the go.
“It is another example of how we are using technology to improve patient outcomes while reducing the strain on frontline services and this will help reduce hospitalizations and diabetes illnesses.
“The NHS has been rolling out these devices at a rapid pace and even more patients will benefit from this life-saving technology from the spring.”