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"Flash is the best thing that has happened to people with diabetes for a long time." 

Neil

After losing hypo awareness, Neil started self-funding Flash. He found that he managed his diabetes much better with the device. When he realised that his local CCG were refusing to fund it, Neil joined the Fight for Flash

Neil Absolom
Age 63
Diabetes UK campaigner

"I’m really proud the Flash campaign got this far, and forced a decision that needed to be made. Without it, I doubt we would have got Flash on prescription and I wouldn’t be able to use it the way I do now.”

Neil's journey with diabetes

  • Diagnosed in 1991, 28 years ago.
  • He was feeling rundown. So he went to a GP appointment where he was diagnosed. 
  • He's taken Metformin, insulin and is now on an insulin pump.
  • Was 35 when he was diagnosed.  
  • Joined the Fight for Flash when he discovered how much it helped his diabetes management. 

Getting involved

I’d been using Flash for almost a year. It was costing a lot of money. Diabetes UK got in touch with me through my local diabetes group. They asked me whether I’d be interested in fronting the fight for Flash in Dorset. I said yes, and it sort of spiralled from there. 

I looked online to research what other NHS trusts were offering. I couldn’t understand why other areas were getting flash on prescription with the NHS on prescription, but Dorset wasn’t. That’s why I started campaigning, so the Dorset CCG would fund Flash. 

I took some photos of myself holding the flash device and sent it Diabetes UK. They put it in Balance magazine and online, and that’s when the signatures started coming through. I started getting emails saying things like ‘we’re with you’ and other messages of support. I got all the family involved, and they were signing the petition and sharing it with their friends. When the campaign first started, Diabetes UK wanted to get 2,000 signatures. It actually got to nearly 3,000. I got invited for a meeting at Dorset County Council.


Meeting the council 

There were reporters there from the local paper, as well as a TV crew. I got interviewed before the meeting and told the reporters about the importance of Flash. After that we went in to the meeting room with the county councillors. The problem was that because I live in Poole, which has its own city council, the Dorset CC told me I was unable to speak at the meeting. Diabetes UK helped me find someone who didn’t live in Poole to speak on my behalf. 

Despite all of this, the local CCG still weren’t prepared to fund it. But they did agree to a trial for six months for certain people. They were still dragging their feet. 


My first prescription

Then in November 2018 NHS England announced that Flash would have to be available to those that met the criteria across the country, including Dorset. I got a phone call from my diabetes centre asking me if I’d go down for a training session to use Flash. There were people there that had never used it before, so myself and others who had self-funded helped show them how to use it. 

My diabetes centre then sent a letter out to our GP surgery. My GP then confirmed that I would be receiving Flash on prescription from April 1 2019. I collected my first prescription a couple of days after that.


"Flash means I can continually check my blood sugar levels when I’m out and about."

Why I campaigned

Flash is the best new technology that’s come around for a long time. It’s an amazing piece of equipment. I don’t have hypo awareness, so I don’t get any hypo symptoms. Flash means I can continually check my blood sugar levels when I’m out and about, which means I’m much less likely to have a hypo without knowing it. It’s so convenient. Everyone with Type 1 diabetes who uses Flash can know what’s going on at any second of the day. 

I’m so glad the campaign came about, because without it I don’t think we would have got to where we are with Flash in Dorset. I’m extremely pleased to have been part of it. It’s helped force a decision that needed to be made. 


The future

I’ll keep campaigning for Flash. I’m proud of all of it. Without the campaign I wouldn’t be able to use Flash the way I do now, and I’m sure there are hundreds of people with diabetes who feel the same.

I’ve had a tough time with diabetes. I lost my driving license because I no longer have hypo awareness. I’ve developed other health problems because of my diabetes. And I’m no longer able to work because of these issues. I’ve had a bit of a downward spiral. 

But I feel like things are looking up with Flash. Without it I think I would find it very difficult to manage my diabetes. 

Flash is the best thing that has happened to people with diabetes for a long time. 

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