Diabetes patients are denied vital tests

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DIABETICS in Wigan borough are being denied the chance to monitor their blood glucose levels because vital test strips are being rationed to save money, according to a new report by Diabetes UK.

The charity say that nearly a quarter of people who said they had their prescriptions restricted had been told by their GP that this was due to restrictive policies issued by local health managers. This is supported by further analysis by Diabetes UK that shows widespread variation on guidance on prescribing test strips, with some areas issuing arbitrary restrictions.

Barbara Young, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “Test strips are the most basic of tools for managing Type 1 diabetes and insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes so it is very worrying that so many people are telling us they are having their test strips rationed because of cost saving measures.

“We are glad the Health Minister Anna Soubry has made it clear to GPs that they must prescribe blood glucose test strips to people with Type 1 diabetes in accordance with clinical need.

“Healthcare professionals also need to be aware that people with Type 2 diabetes who are on glucose lowering medication, including insulin, that can cause hypoglycaemia also need to test their blood glucose levels and it’s important that people with diabetes are aware of this so that they can challenge GPs that try to ration.

“We now want to see GPs and healthcare professionals take heed of our report and ensure decisions about blood glucose monitoring and access to test strips are made on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the person with diabetes and their health care professional.”

The Department of Health has recently written to all GPs to tell them that people with Type 1 diabetes should not have their access to test strips restricted. Diabetes UK has also launched a new advocacy pack to provide guidance to people with diabetes who have had their access to test strips restricted. See www.diabetes.org.uk for more information.