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GPs go forth

DH to investigate ‘bonkers’ rationing of diabetes testing strips

Ministers have ordered an investigation into why PCTs are advising GPs to ration glucose testing strips for patients with type 1 diabetes.

Health minister  Anna Soubry told the House of Commons last week that she was concerned to hear claims from Diabetes UK that people with type 1 diabetes were being given only limited numbers of glucose testing strips by their GPs.

She said: ‘Frankly, this is bonkers; people with diabetes who use strips need to use them and often need to use many in a day.

‘I am not happy if there is any form of rationing of those strips. I have already met officers in the Department and inquiries are being made of primary care trusts, and beyond,’ she said.

The minister said rationing of glucose strips was ‘unacceptable’ and she had told departmental officials to make further inquiries.

In reply to a question by Labour MP Diane Abbott about what patients should do if their GP was attempting to ration testing strips, the minister said  the answer lay with CCGs, because they would give power to doctors and other health professionals to commission services, and also give more power to patients to influence local services.

‘There is an opportunity, through the reforms, to ensure that we now deliver locally as we should,’  she told MPs.

Dr Mo Roshan, GP clinical lead for diabetes in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland CCGs, there should be no question of restricting or rationing the use of glucose testing strips for patients with type 1 diabetes, but it was defensible in some cases of type 2 diabetes.

He said: ‘There’s no doubt that CCGs will be looking at their prescribing budgets and some of them may be providing guidance to GPs that isn’t strictly in accordance with the latest recommendations for patients with diabetes. So there needs to be a survey or an audit to see what kind of advice is out there.’

A spokesman for Diabetes UK welcomed the ‘strong message’ from the Government. She said: ‘We hope the minister’s intervention makes it clear to PCTs that issuing blanket restrictive policies is unacceptable.’

Readers' comments (12)

  • This makes me so angry. In the long run poorly controlled diabetes will cost more!
    I was stood in Tesco a few days ago when a lady behind me bragged to her friend that she doesn't pay for her E45- she gets it prescribed for free by her GP for eczema that she hasn't had for years. She recommended her friend put the E45 she was buying back on the shelf and go to her GP and ask for the same.
    We're a load of mugs who pander to those who don't need help- but people with an actual health problems get totally screwed. I'm beginning to hate this job. Australia is looking good.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Wait a minute. Who is the good guy ? Who is the bad guy ?
    Who has created this system of CCGs which are very good 'shields' and scapegoat for the government in any rationing measures.
    Patients' organisations complaint and of course, a health minister would try her best to fight for 'justice' .
    CCGs and PCTs of course are labelled as the devil.....

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  • The Profession, through its support of CCGs has made itself the perfect scapegoat for slippery politicians.
    When will the penny drop?

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  • Vinci Ho - it has always been thus - first DHAs, then Health Authorities, then PCTs. Now it's CCGs turn to be the rationing scapegoats.

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  • Its all a load of tosh

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  • This is just the first situation of many to come I fear. It was clear that the GPs, surgeries and CCG's would be blamed. We are expected to save £20bn but how should we do it if not by controlling costs?

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  • Surely more bonkers that the NHS do not make
    there own purpose built glucose monitors that
    only their sticks will fit, - Nhs could then
    control the price. We could then decline to prescribe
    all the new ones! I've watched my Dad( in his 7os) try
    to learn how to use his new one- osteoarthritic
    fingers far too clumsy. Surely a patient group
    with a decent OT could design a new one for the
    NHS to patent?

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  • Not a load of tosh or some frivolous activity, for us insulin users. Those who are self adjusting and aiming for anything like decent control need to test several times per day.
    I've heard stories of people being limited to one test per day! People may have survived without testing in the "dark ages" but possiby this survival would have been less prolonged or at the expense of worse quality of life
    I agree we need cheaper strips however
    Agamatrix and Ypsomed sell cheaper strips ( wave sense Jazz and my life pure) and these appear to be very accurate

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  • There is definitely a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to glucometers and test strips. There is a £10 difference between the cheapest and the most expensive test strips (have a quick look to the Drug Tariff), so it would make sense for a CCG to review the prescribing of test strips (potential savings between £1.00 and £2.00 per head of population, make the numbers). The majority of patients don't need a expensive glucometer with a lot of features; they need something simple, easy to use, accurate and cost effective.

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  • Also remember, everytime a diabetic on insulin gets behind the wheel of a car, by law, he/she needs to test.. if they are involved in an accident and cant prove they are/were over 5mmol they will be prosecuted.
    That applies to both T1 and T2's on medication liable to cause hypos.
    Also educated and pro active diabetics who work hard to achieve official bg numbers should also be rewarded with enough strips to encourage them to meet (or exceed) healthy guidelines.

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