South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the news that a new high-tech monitoring kit for people with type 1 diabetes will now be offered by NHS Dumfries and Galloway-; but urged the Scottish Government to make such monitoring kits available on prescription from GPs.

The local NHS Board has agreed to fund provision of Flash Glucose Monitoring (FGM) to eligible patients as part of its budgeting for 2018/19, as one of the first boards in Scotland to offer this system on prescription.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway had previously rolled out the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system to the fullest extent possible using its share of the £10 million allocated towards this approach by The Scottish Government. Most people with type 1 diabetes in the region currently use the finger prick testing method to monitor their blood sugars but this simply gives a snapshot and can be painful especially for children, who often have to carry out the test during the night. The FGM system uses a monitor placed on the arm 24 hours a day, avoiding the need to carry out a finger prick test eight to ten times a day, tracking the blood sugar count continuously which makes it more accurate.

However, both the FGM and the CGM schemes are limited by the funding set aside by the local board and can be halted at anytime by the local NHS. This results in a tight limit on who can access them. If the Scottish Government made them available on prescription across Scotland with no risk that individual boards could stop providing the kits due to funding decisions.

Colin Smyth said, “I welcome the move by NHS Dumfries and Galloway to roll out the new flash glucose monitoring system which will have a truly transformational impact on the lives of those who use them. Up until now only those who could afford to pay for the system could access them and that was fundamentally wrong and went against the very principle of our NHS and its thanks to the campaign work of local families that we have seen this change. However, the decision to now make them available in Dumfries and Galloway was made by the local NHS so you have a postcode lottery across Scotland. The local health board can stop providing these systems at any time due to funding pressures. That’s why the Scottish Government should make them available on prescription from local GPs across Scotland like most treatments, so they can’t simply be stopped if a local NHS board can no longer afford to fund them. It’s unfair to simply leave this decision in the hands of individual local boards especially given the funding pressure they face”.  

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