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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.’


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