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Cheque for Tech campaign

Our campaign called on the government to provide ring-fenced funding for diabetes technologies as part of its Spending Review. Now, new guidelines recommend wider access to Flash and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Thanks to the hard work of our campaigners, we've put diabetes technology on the radars of hundreds of MPs across the country. While these guidelines may take time to be adopted locally, your support has meant that better access to tech for everyone with diabetes is closer than ever.

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What is Cheque for Tech? 

The coronavirus pandemic has been a real struggle for everyone across the country. For many people with diabetes this has meant big changes to the level of support that we are used to. 

In our most recent survey, around half of people with diabetes who responded from England had not had any contact with their healthcare team during the pandemic. And over a third of people who hadn’t had any contact with their healthcare team since lockdowns began have had difficulties managing their condition. 

This has meant many people with diabetes have had appointments with their healthcare teams cancelled, resulting in uncertainty and confusion. While services are busy leading efforts to control the pandemic, people with diabetes need to be sure they won’t miss out on vital care. 

There is a solution to this for many in these uncertain times. And that is giving people who could benefit from it access to life-changing diabetes technologies through the NHS. Technologies like continuous glucose monitors (CGM), flash glucose monitors (Flash) and insulin pumps. 

Support to take control from home can – for many – mean living well, instead of facing the risk of serious health complications. 

The announcement of new guidelines on diabetes technology by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is a huge step forward to making sure that more people have access to this life-changing technology.

But we know that for too many people with diabetes, accessing the right diabetes technology can be a real struggle. Our research has shown that half of people with diabetes said that they had been refused access to diabetes technology at some point in the last 10 years. 

Local funding was reported as the reason they had been refused access to technology by almost one in five people (19%), so we know this is a huge barrier. This simply isn’t right. We’ll be working to make sure local health systems implement the new NICE guidelines in full. 
 

"My mother has type 2 with Parkinson's disease and has uncontrollable tremors. She has been insulin-dependant since 2018 but can no longer finger-prick to monitor blood sugar levels. 

"This presents a dangerous situation as it risks fatal hypoglycaemia when blood sugars are not appropriately checked. She therefore needs the help of a third party (me) to do the finger-pricking more than 5 times a day.

"Currently it is very difficult for anyone with type 2 diabetes to get access to any diabetes technology. Having access to Flash or continuous glucose monitoring means she would be able to independently monitor her daily blood sugar levels."  Mark Preece

How will this help me if I’m in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

Wales

Welsh Senedd elections took place in May 2021, and this was a key opportunity for us to raise access to technology as a vital issue for people with diabetes in Wales. We have formed a group to focus on how best to influence the government, political party manifestos and NHS Cymru. 

Scotland

In May 2021, the Scottish Parliamentary elections provided us with an opportunity to make the case to government about just how important access to diabetes technology is. Like in England, we need to see wider and fairer access, and this will be one of our top priorities in influencing the future government and NHS Scotland.

Now the elections have happened, we’re working hard with new MSPs to ensure that diabetes tech can become a reality for more people with diabetes.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, we know there is still lots to do to improve access to diabetes technologies. We are continuing to make the case on this to the government and health and social care trusts across Northern Ireland. Ahead of elections taking place in May 2022, sign up to hear more about how you can make sure diabetes technology is a top priority for candidates.

Find out more about accessing technology if you're in the UKt

How can diabetes technology help me? 

At this time, when face-to-face appointments aren’t taking place as often as they used to, diabetes technologies help people to manage their condition from home. Healthcare teams can also support people with diabetes remotely to use these technologies. A lot of them  automatically upload information to platforms that healthcare professionals can access.
  
Healthcare teams can use the extra information that diabetes technologies can provide, like a predicted HbA1c, to identify specific issues people may be having and offer support over the phone or in online appointments. Nearly half of people with diabetes have had their appointments cancelled during the pandemic and there is no doubt that diabetes technology can help to ensure people with diabetes are getting the support and advice they so desperately want and need.  

Our research has showed that diabetes technology can have huge benefits for people with diabetes. We heard from people with diabetes who have been using diabetes technology around the country, and we found:  

  • 72% reported better average glucose levels  
  • 51% reported having fewer hypos 
  • 46% reported improvements in their emotional wellbeing or mental health  
  • 68% reported being more confident managing their condition 
  • 14% reported fewer visits to hospital 
  • 14% reported fewer episodes of DKA 

It is clear wider access to diabetes technology cannot wait – support to take control of diabetes can mean living well, instead of facing the risk of serious health complications. For people with any type of diabetes relying on multiple daily insulin injections, diabetes technologies can make the world of difference in these uncertain times.

What has Diabetes UK said before about this issue?

Access to the right diabetes technology has been a key part of our campaigning for some time. In 2017-18, we ran the successful Fight for Flash campaign, which called for more people with diabetes to have access to Flash glucose monitoring on the NHS. This campaign was hugely successful, and now many more people with type 1 diabetes have access. 

Since then, we have continued to highlight with decision makers the value of extending the use of diabetes technology, including for specific groups, such as pregnant women, and for specific devices, such as insulin pumps or artificial pancreas systems

What is clear, however, is that while progress has been made in recent years, the changes people are experiencing in access to their healthcare teams as a result of the coronavirus pandemic means that the Government needs to go further and faster to support people with diabetes at this time.

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