South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has backed the campaign by local mums to improve support for those with diabetes, using a Parliamentary debate to urge the Scottish Government to make continuous glucose monitoring sensors available on prescription.
Speaking during a debate on National Eye Week about the threat to vision caused by diabetes, the local MSP highlighted the recent visit to Kirkcudbright of the Scottish Parliament’s petition committee where Soenaid Anderson, who runs Kirkcudbright Pharmacy highlighted the powerful case for sensors to be made available on prescription for everyone with type 1 diabetes.
Speaking during the debate Colin Smyth told Parliament, “One of the factors that contributes to the rise in sight loss is the increase in the number of people who are being diagnosed with diabetes. A key part of controlling diabetes is monitoring of blood sugar levels, which guides what a person eats and, often, how much insulin they take. At the moment, people with type 1 diabetes typically self-monitor their blood glucose level by using a finger prick, often about a dozen times a day and often during the night.
As I found out when I went on the recent visit to Kirkcudbright by members of the Public Petitions Committee, stabbing your finger with a needle is not exactly a pleasant experience. I had to do it only once on that visit, but some children as young as three have to do it a dozen or more times a day, every day.
During the visit I had the pleasure of meeting local mums Seonaid Anderson and Emily Ross, whose daughters Maisie and Robyn have type 1 diabetes. They highlighted the alternative to the painful and distressing process of finger pricking—namely, continuous glucose monitoring, for which a small sensor is placed under the skin to check glucose levels. That allows for more frequent readings of glucose levels and for fine tuning treatment, and it reduces the need for painful finger pricking. However, it is not currently available on prescription. I urge the Government to consider seriously the case that is being made by mums like Seonaid and Emily and, more important, by their daughters Maisie and Robyn and many others across Scotland, and to make continuous glucose monitoring available on prescription. The Government has a duty to support the best possible care for people with diabetes, and to raise awareness of the risk that consistently high blood sugar poses to their vision”.
In response the Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison highlighted additional resources – around £2m a year- for health boards to make the sensors available for those with the greatest need. Shona Robison said, “We recently allocated additional funding to support not only the increase in the provision of insulin pumps for adults but—importantly, as Colin Smyth mentioned—to support continuous glucose monitoring for those who have the greatest clinical need and who will benefit most from that important technology”.
However, Colin Smyth has backed campaigners and wants the Scottish Government to go further. Speaking after the debate, Colin Smyth added, “The £2m per year the Government have allocated across Scotland for glucose monitoring sensors and adult insulin pumps amounts to less than £42,000 for Dumfries and Galloway. That is the equivalent of four sensors and ten insulin pumps, which just doesn’t go far enough. The Government should make this monitoring available on prescription, especially for children, which would actually save the NHS money in the long term due the fact those using the sensors will be able to manage their diabetes better”.
Link to full speech and response from Cabinet Secetary:
Link to petition and evidence given to the Petitions Committee: