Limiting availability of blood glucose test strips

IDDT campaigning

Pork and beef insulins available in the UK
Synthetic ‘human’ insulin versus natural animal insulin
Animal insulin – Minister’s letter
Limiting availability of blood glucose test strips


Back to Here to Help

Limiting availability of blood glucose test strips

IDDT continues to receive reports about restrictions on the numbers, or total refusal, to prescribe blood glucose test strips. These reports are usually from people with Type 2 diabetes whether or not they are on insulin but we are also receiving similar reports from people with Type 1 diabetes.
The attitude to prescribing of strips varies from area to area but when this is limited or denied altogether, it is a cost-based decision resulting in post-code prescribing of blood glucose test strips.

Opposing views from the medical profession!
“People with type 2 diabetes should have as many test strips as they like.”
This is the view of Dr Richard Greenwood, consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, reported in The Eastern Daily Express [13.4.04] who says:
“My view is that people with Type 2 diabetes should be offered as many tests as they would like. A lot of patients feel more comfortable if their blood test is normal. There is a reassuring element with these strips which is very important with a condition like diabetes. This is where evidence based medicine and what patients want is at odds. I think PCTs are taking the health economics approach and trying to reduce expenditure whereas they should take a more humanitarian approach.”

But Coventry GP, Dr Rodney Swallow says:
“Some patients are testing themselves at home more often than they need to and perhaps it is becoming an automatic thing. We are not saying that people should not test themselves, it definitely has its uses and it is a basic part of monitoring and treatment, if it is done correctly. Some people may be testing four or more times a day, everyday which is unnecessary. Too much testing can be scary, especially for older people who may become more anxious about their condition. Too much testing can lead to a lot of soreness of the fingers.”

IDDT’s advice:
If you are denied the glucose test strips you need, you should take this up first with your GP and or GP practice manager and if this fails, with the Primary Care Trust.
The following information may be useful in your discussions:

  • The Minister has confirmed that blood glucose test strips are available on the NHS and there are no plans to discontinue this arrangement.
  • It was on the recommendation of diabetes specialist that blood glucose testing was advised in the first place and not a mere whim of patients. If you feel safer using test strips, then explain this when making your case.
  • The National Service Framework for Diabetes aims to increase patient empowerment and make them more responsible for their own treatment and care, restrictions on strips is not in line with these principles.
  • There is no evidence that blood glucose testing actually improves diabetes control but Dr Greenwood highlights the needs of patients to have the assurance and comfort of knowing what their blood glucose levels so that they can take the necessary action.