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Why prick when you can scan?

Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre – a flash glucose monitor that allows diabetes patients to track their blood sugar without finger pricking to get a blood sample – will be reimbursed by the NHS from November 1, subject to local health economy approval.

The system uses a sensor the size of a £2 coin, worn on the back of the upper arm, to automatically read glucose levels. When the sensor is applied, a thin, flexible and sterile fibre is inserted just under the skin. It is held in place with a small adhesive pad. Evidence suggests that users scan their glucose levels an average of at least 15 times per day, and that these higher rates of self-monitoring are strongly associated with improved glucose measures.

The device’s starter pack costs around £160+VAT, with readers for the sensors costing £58+VAT, but it will now be available for NHS reimbursement in all part of the UK for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes who are intensively using insulin.

Current NICE guidelines advise routine self-monitoring of blood glucose for all adults with Type 1 diabetes and recommend monitoring at least four times per day, including before each meal and before bed.

The announcement has received an enthusiastic welcome from Diabetes UK.

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