Consultation proposing to restrict prescribing costs of glucose test strips and insulin pen needles

Date published: 08 February 2019

NHS England is consulting on whether to advise Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to restrict the prescription of glucose testing strips for people with Type 2 diabetes and insulin pen needles for all people with diabetes over a certain price as a cost saving exercise. The consultation period will close on 28 February.

Diabetes UK has expressed concern at the proposals and will work to ensure that the views and needs of people with diabetes are represented in any final outcome of the consultation. Diabetes UK will submit an official response to the consultation and is encouraging people with diabetes to submit their views to NHS England.

NHS England has stated in the consultation document that the intention is not to de-prescribe these items, but for CCGs to consider cheaper alternatives. Glucose test strips (for people with Type 2 diabetes) and needles for insulin pens (for all people with diabetes) are the two items relevant for people with diabetes on the list being consulted on.

These items aren’t optional extras or luxuries, they are essential tools for diabetes management, helping people with diabetes stay on top of their condition and avoid complications in the long run.

Clare Howarth, Head of the North at Diabetes UK, said: “We believe it’s vital that people with diabetes who are largely self-managing their condition have all the support they need to do so. We worry that these proposals will undermine people’s ability and confidence to do this and are also concerned that the cheaper needles proposed by NHS England might not be as effective as the more expensive options.

“Everyone’s diabetes and diabetes management is different, and it’s vital that the outcome of NHS England’s consultation takes into account people’s preferences and ease of use, not just cost. We are working to ensure that the views and needs of people with diabetes are represented in any final decision.”

NHS England is encouraging people who will be affected by the proposed changes to have their say in the consultation. Diabetes UK will be submitting an official response and will work to ensure that the views and needs of people with diabetes are represented in any final decision resulting from the consultation.

Items which would be affected if the consultation’s proposals become reality would be blood glucose testing strips costing more than £10 for 50 strips (for people with Type 2 diabetes) and reusable insulin pen needles costing more than £5 for 100 needles (for all people with diabetes).

People with diabetes can get involved by submitting their views via NHS England’s online survey or by attending one of NHS England’s consultation events. People with diabetes can also submit their views to Diabetes UK to help shape Diabetes UK’s response to the consultation.

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