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New HbA1c measure from 1 October

The units that HbA1c levels are measured in, in patients with diabetes, are set to change on 1 October. HbA1c levels, which are currently measured in percentage units, will be measured in millimoles per mole (mmol/mol).

In June 2009 the Department of Health announced the change after the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry recommended all countries should adopt the same measurement.

Currently UK laboratories are dual reporting – using both percentage and mmol/mol measures.  The change to measuring only mmol/mol was due to happen on 1 June 2011, but this was delayed until 1 October amid concerns the new units were not understood and clinicians weren't ready for the change.

Diabetes UK has produced an online HbA1c converter which is available here.

Dr Colin Kenny a GP in Dromore, Co. Down said that there was ‘good science' behind the move, but added that GPs have ‘got accustomed to using percentages'.

Dr Brian Karet, a GPSI in diabetes in Bradford, said that the move ‘may cause some confusion', but that those who deal with diabetes patients day to day were geared up for the change.

‘If we don't make the swap now, we'll never get used to the new has to be done'