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Life-changing diabetes technology available in Northern Ireland

A new technology that is potentially life-changing for many people with diabetes is now available across Northern Ireland.

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After we successfully campaigned to make Flash Glucose Monitoring available on the NHS last year, the Health and Social Care Service in Northern Ireland has approved its use, which means some people with Type 1 diabetes who meet local criteria will be able to get it free of charge on prescription.

The Northern Ireland criteria was co-designed by clinicians and people living with diabetes via the Diabetes Network NI. This criteria was accepted and now people living here can access the technology they need to better manage their Type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly. Many people with diabetes need to self-monitor their blood glucose levels. This is usually done with a finger prick blood test using a meter that indicates the blood glucose level at the time of the test.

Flash Glucose Monitoring is a different technology which uses a small sensor that people wear on their skin. It records blood sugar levels continuously and can be read by scanning the sensor whenever needed. This can free people from the pain of frequent finger-prick testing, making it easier to keep on top of blood sugar levels.

Crucially, the device can help with better control of the condition and, in turn, reduce the risk of serious diabetes-related complications such as amputation, blindness and stroke.

Even though in principle it is available on the NHS, its use is subject to approval by local health bodies, and there are still many areas across the UK where it is not offered on prescription. We wants to see people all over the UK, who can benefit from the ground breaking technology, gain access to it.

Jillian Patchett, National Director at Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, said: “It’s really good news that people in Northern Ireland can get Flash free of charge on prescription. This sadly isn’t the case for everyone living with diabetes across the UK.

"This has been a successful outcome of the work of the Diabetes Network NI to deliver criteria and a clear pathway, therefore enabling people here in Northern Ireland to avail of the Freestyle Libre without having to self-fund. We believe everyone with diabetes should have access to the right technology to support them, not just those who can afford it.

“We are calling on local decision makers elsewhere in the UK to ensure everyone with diabetes who could benefit from Flash get it, no matter where they live.”

Ballymena woman, Maureen Casey, said, "I was prescribed Flash a couple of months ago and I haven’t looked back. It has helped me so much and has made such a difference to how I manage my Type 1 diabetes. I have struggled with the frequent finger pricking, especially through the night, and now Flash has made this so much easier and I am feeling really confident about being on top of my condition. I thoroughly recommend it so talk to your healthcare team to find out more about it."

To find out if Flash is right for you, what you need to do to access it and how you can make the case for it to be made available in your local area, go to our flash glucose monitoring campaign page.

You can also call the our Helpline on 0345 123 2399, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm or email helpline@diabetes.org.uk.

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