Diabetes Testing Supplies Refused by National Health Service

Some patient populations with diabetes unable to obtain proper management resources.

Diabetes UK Cymru, a Wales-based advocacy organization, discovered that more than 23% of patients with diabetes living in the country are not receiving the proper amount of testing strips.

The researchers discovered that patients with diabetes are being refused testing strips by the National Health Service (NHS), which provides care for patients in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The new report found that the NHS placed restrictions on, or refused to cover, testing strips for 1 in 4 patients with diabetes compared with 1 in 5 people 4 years ago, according to Diabetes UK.

Included in the study were patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes living in the UK.

The authors of the report discovered that 52% of patients with type 1 diabetes experienced barriers to receiving testing strips. The authors noted that this finding was concerning because it is recommended that these patients consistently monitor their blood glucose levels by testing at least 4 times per day.

Additionally, the authors discovered that patients with type 2 diabetes were alerted that monitoring glucose levels was unnecessary for their condition; however, it is well-known that these patients must test their levels if they are treated with insulin or other drugs that can lead to hypoglycemia.

Diabetes UK Cymru is calling for action to ensure that patients with diabetes receive the necessary resources for disease management.

The authors suggest that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence should revise the best practices for type 2 diabetes, and make sure that all regulations reflect the agency’s self-monitoring guidelines, according to the advocacy group.

“No one with diabetes should have their test strips restricted. It is a false economy and cause people to face stressful decisions about when to test or not,” said Dai Williams, director of Diabetes UK Cymru. “As well as being vital for people with Type 1 diabetes, anyone with Type 2 diabetes can benefit from testing so should be supported to do so if it is helping them to better manage their condition. We urge people to challenge restrictions and refusals.”

Achieving and maintaining blood glucose control is crucial for patient health. Placing restrictions on or refusing coverage of testing strips may lead to adverse events and complications, including amputations, blindness, heart disease, and stroke.

“The key is that testing is only useful if you do something with the results. Both people with diabetes and their healthcare professionals need to be clear about when and how people with diabetes need to use test strips to get the best possible outcomes with their diabetes. Local policies should allow sufficient choice and flexibility for individual circumstances to be taken into account when prescribing test strips and meters for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes,” Williams concluded. “We want to see every health board in Wales give people with diabetes in their area the chance to take control of their condition and having the right equipment, advice and support is vital.”