The FreeStyle Libre – by Dr Emma Wilmot, Consultant Diabetologist, Derby Teaching Hospital
The news that the FreeStyle Libre will be available through the NHS is a watershed moment in Type 1 diabetes care in the UK. Type 1 diabetes is an extremely demanding long-term condition to live with.
The amount of work required to stay healthy, which includes drawing blood, counting carbohydrate in food and working out insulin injection doses multiple times per day, in an attempt to avoid glucose levels that are neither too high nor too low, is huge. There is no day off. It is relentless.
Understandably, the need to monitor glucose levels 4-10 times or more per day can be a significant barrier to glucose control for so many. The FreeStyle Libre device overcomes this barrier by allowing, via a quick scan with a mobile phone or reader, access to not only the glucose level but also the trend in glucose levels.
“The FreeStyle Libre system has given me a new-found confidence and sense of freedom because I quickly know where my glucose is, and more importantly where it is heading and how fast… combined with the better lifestyle and freedom this product gives me, it is not too much to say that it is a life changer,” says Nick, person with Type 1 diabetes.
In my clinical practice I have witnessed people who have struggled with their diabetes for years or decades, achieve their best diabetes control ever through using this device.
Many describe it as ‘life changing’, not only because it allows easy access to glucose levels without the need to draw blood but also because it is an educational tool. Some have learned more about their diabetes through using this device than they have in all the years that they have lived with diabetes.
“Being out of control is scary. Using the FreeStyle Libre for four months has shown that I only needed to make relatively minor tweaks to reduce my HbA1c from over 10% to 7.1% (and it’s still falling). I am no longer scared of not eating enough, or waking up with a paramedic in my bedroom,” says John, person with Type 1 diabetes.
I am delighted that this life-changing device will now be available on the NHS in the UK rather than restricted only to those who can afford to fund it privately. As a diabetes specialist healthcare professional I look forward to supporting people living with diabetes to gain the greatest benefits from this device: to maximise quality of life, improve glucose control and minimise the future risks of diabetes complications.