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Jane Ellison: NHS England responsible for insulin pump access

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NHS England is responsible for making sure people with Type 1 diabetes in England get the right access to insulin pumps, according to Minister for Health Jane Ellison.

In a Parliamentary answer on Tuesday, Ms Ellison said it was down to NHS England to ensure local NHS organisations make insulin pumps available for people with diabetes who meet the criteria set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Ms Ellison also said that while insulin pumps are not appropriate for everyone with Type 1 diabetes, they should be offered to:

  • Children with Type 1 who are under 12 if having multiple daily injections is impractical or inappropriate
  • Anyone with Type 1 diabetes over the age of 12, provided that multiple-daily insulin therapy has not worked (the criteria is that they do not meet recommended blood glucose levels despite multiple daily injections and a high level of care, or if they cannot do this without disabling hypos).

Ms Ellison was responding to a question from Adrian Sanders, Chair of the All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diabetes, about what the Government is doing to ensure insulin pump therapy is available to people with diabetes.

Her answer follows last year’s insulin pump audit that revealed just seven per cent of the estimated 247,500 people in the UK with Type 1 diabetes use a pump, despite the fact that pumps can make a big difference to someone’s ability to manage their diabetes.

While usage is thought to have gone up in the last five years, the UK is still doing much worse than comparable countries such as Germany and Norway, where over 15 per cent of those with Type 1 diabetes use a pump. In the US, use of insulin pumps is even more widespread, with some 40 per cent of people with Type 1 having one.

The poor performance is thought to be linked to the low number of healthcare professionals qualified to train people with Type 1 diabetes to use a pump, with the lack of diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs) a particular problem.

Diabetes UK has called for the NHS to ensure that anyone who is eligible for a pump can access one, which includes staff in both adult and children's care having the right training to support people to use their pump.

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