Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Cheque for Tech campaign

Our campaign has called on the government to provide ring-fenced funding for diabetes technologies as part of its Spending Review. The government has announced £559 million to 'modernise technology' in the NHS ,and we need to make sure people with diabetes aren't forgotten.

Thanks to the hard work of our campaigners, we've put diabetes technology on the radar of hundreds of MPs across the country. Now, we need to make it count, by ensuring that this important investment benefits people with diabetes.

We're calling on Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, to make sure that diabetes technology is a top priority. We know that this money will not give everyone with diabetes access to life-changing technology, but it can help provide it for those who need it most. 

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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 haven’t had any contact with their healthcare team since lockdown have had difficulties managing their condition. 

What this has meant is that many people with diabetes have had appointments with their healthcare teams cancelled, resulting in uncertainty and confusion. While services are busy leading our 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. And we'd love you to help us make that happen with our Cheque for Tech campaign.

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

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. In these times more than ever, that simply isn’t right. 

For too many people with diabetes, accessing the right diabetes technology can be a real struggle. Often it’s simply a postcode lottery. In these times more than ever, that simply isn’t acceptable. 

You can join our call for more funding for diabetes technology by clicking the button below.

Join our campaign
 

"My mother is type 2 with Parkinson's disease and has uncontrollable tremors due to the disease. 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 without the encumbrances caused by the symptoms of Parkinson's disease."  Mark Preece
 

What changes do we need to see?

We need the Government to take urgent action and sign a Cheque for Tech in its spending plans for services in England.

Providing this vital funding for diabetes technologies would mean:

  • Local areas can build on the progress made in recent years, expanding criteria for diabetes technology, so anybody with diabetes who would benefit from using Flash, insulin pumps or continuous glucose monitoring can do so.
  • An end to the postcode lottery, so access to diabetes technologies is based on your need, and not on where you live.
  • Making training available so healthcare professionals can take advantage of all diabetes technologies, and support people with diabetes to use them effectively

While we’ve seen some progress in recent years, with the NHS investing in specific devices for certain groups, we need the Government to go further and faster. Investing in diabetes technology would help build on this progress by supporting local areas to expand the criteria for devices like Flash and continuous glucose monitors. 

Services will continue to be impacted by coronavirus over the coming months, so essential diabetes technologies must be given to people with diabetes to help keep them well.

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

Wales

Welsh Senedd elections are taking place in May 2021, and this is 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 will provide 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.

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 government and Health and Social Care trusts across Northern Ireland. 

If you’re in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, find out more about accessing technology.

How can diabetes technology help me at this time? 

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, many of which automatically upload information to platforms 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.

How you can help 

If you, or someone you care for, uses an insulin pump, a CGM, Flash, or even testing strips, we’d really like you to contact the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to explain why diabetes tech must be prioritised. To help the government understand the benefits of diabetes tech, we need as many people to get in touch with Matt Hancock as possible, so every email counts.

If you’ve started using diabetes tech or have been refused it during the coronavirus pandemic, we’d also really like to hear your experiences of diabetes tech  – whether good or bad.

What has Diabetes UK done or said before on 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 as a result. 

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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