Diabetes is a chronic illness that can result in serious health complications or premature death and there are around 300,000 people in Scotland currently living with this condition.
Professor Brian Kennon, a consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology is the national lead for Diabetes in Scotland as chair of the Scottish Diabetes Group. He explains why the Scottish Diabetes Group sought advice from the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG).
Professor Kennon said:
We were aware that the provision of Freestyle Libre across Scotland was variable.
It was particularly attractive that the SHTG could do [a health economic case for the technology] and add weight to our argument for why we should be using this in Scotland and why there should be equal access for everyone who could benefit from its use.
The Scottish Diabetes Group requested advice from the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG) about a flash glucose monitoring device – Freestyle Libre®, which measures sugar (glucose) levels in the body using a disposable sensor that’s worn on the arm.
The use of Freestyle Libre® allows some people with diabetes to reduce the number of times each day they need to measure their blood glucose by pricking their finger and testing a small drop of blood. Some people with diabetes may need to take up to ten finger prick tests each day.
The Scottish Diabetes Group wanted to find out if there was evidence to suggest that the use of Freestyle Libre® would improve patient care and to see if there was a health economic case for it to be used more widely in Scotland.
SHTG carried out an independent review of evidence on the Freestyle Libre®, pulling together a clinical expert group to get their views on it and working with patient groups to incorporate their perspective. The recommendation for NHSScotland on Freestyle Libre can be read here.
As a result, Diabetes Scotland called for all health boards in Scotland to prescribe flash glucose monitoring, and the Insulin Pump Awareness Group (IPAG) now make reference to SHTG advice, and provide regular updates on prescribing practices across Scotland.
All NHS boards in Scotland now make Freestyle Libre® available on prescription.
Professor Kennon concludes:
The SHTG team were brilliant from the start, we were a bit uncertain of how the process worked but they were very supportive and helped us understand each step of the process.
There was a lot of debate around access to this technology so the SHTG viewed this as a clinical priority to get it assessed because it was impacting upon so many people’s lives.
Delighted with this outcome, Brian said:
Freestyle Libre® has revolutionised how a large proportion of individuals with type 1 diabetes can manage their condition. Since its introduction, we’ve seen a rapid increase in its use in Scotland and we’re no longer getting enquiries from people asking why they can’t access it so that’s a really great result!