Restrictions on test strips
Today we’re attending a meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes (APPG) about access to test strips. This APPG meeting will focus on access to test strips for people with Type 1 diabetes which has been highlighted in our recently released position statement on Self Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG) for adults with Type 1 diabetes.
We have two speakers at the meeting – one highlighting the patient’s perspective and the other from a psychological and clinical perspective on the effects of limiting access to test strips. They will draw on case studies of personal accounts as well as clinical evidence to raise and highlight issues around test strip restriction.
Self monitoring of blood glucose levels is one of the most crucial parts of self care for people with Type 1 diabetes. The ability to monitor glucose levels and to take action to prevent hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia is one of the most significant parts of self care which allows the patient to feel in control of their health condition.
Yet anecdotal evidence and evidence that we’ve collected UK is increasingly showing that patients with Type 1 diabetes are subject to test strip restrictions that prevent them from carrying out self monitoring of blood glucose levels as often as they need to.
We know that patients are increasingly concerned. We have seen a lot of talk about this subject on our Facebook page and through Twitter, with an increased number of visits to our website where people are searching for information on the subject too. Our Careline and Advocacy team are also reporting more calls and enquiries on this.
There appears to be strong evidence that cost to the NHS may be the driving factor, however when considered along side the long term effects of poor glycaemic control this appears to be a false economy. Strong research evidence gathered over the last two decades shows that tight glycaemic control is associated with a significant reduction in serious long term diabetes related complication. NHS spending on diabetes was almost £10 billion in 2011, which is 10% of the NHS budget. 80% of the NHS spending on diabetes goes into managing avoidable complications.
The group is taking this opportunity to examine what can be done to ensure this basic yet crucial need of people with diabetes is met irrespective of where a patient lives.
We’ll be tweeting from the meeting with details of what’s being said, questions raised and responses from MPs, and sharing these updates elsewhere online too. Follow @DiabetesUK on Twitter – we’ll be using #teststrips so be sure to use this hashtag to have your say too.
If you’ve not had the chance to read our full position statement on this subject, here’s a summary:
1. There should be no restriction of blood glucose testing strips.
Self monitoring of blood glucose levels should be regarded as an integral part of treatment for everyone with Type 1 diabetes and access to blood glucose testing strips and meters should not be restricted.
2. SMGB reduces incidence of complications of long term complications in diabetes.
Self monitoring of blood glucose levels can improve glycaemic control in a person with Type 1 diabetes and reduce the incidence of the long term complications of diabetes.
3. Use and frequency of testing and target blood glucose level should be agreed between the person with Type 1 diabetes and their diabetes healthcare team.
4. Access to self monitoring strips should be individualised.
Access to self monitoring test strips should be based on individual need in a joint decision making process between the person with diabetes and their clinician.
5. Treatment regimen, lifestyle and individual needs will determine how frequently a person with Type 1 diabetes needs to test.
6. Self-monitoring skills should be taught close to the time of diagnoses and initiation of insulin therapy.
The education should enable self monitoring of blood glucose levels and the individual able to adjust treatment and activities appropriately. This will help to avoid hypoglycaemia, control hyperglycaemia and support optimal diabetes outcomes.
7. Self monitoring should be performed using meters and strips that suit the individual requirement of the person with Type 1 diabetes.
8. There should be a structured assessment of self-monitoring skills.
The quality and use made of the results obtained and the equipment used should be performed annually, or more frequently according to need, and reinforced where appropriate.
Follow our tweets live from the meeting from 16:00 this afternoon: @DiabetesUK. We’d love to hear what you have to say too – let us know your own experiences, or what you think can be done to improve the situation. Use #teststrips in your tweets.
Update: Check out our Storify that brings together everyone’s comments and tweets from throughout the day.