Thousands of people with diabetes will benefit from new technology to help them manage their condition after NICE recommended the use of real-time continuous glucose monitoring for adults and children with type 1 diabetes for the first time.
Campaigners have welcomed the news, saying that technology is now being recognised as “an integral part of diabetes management, not simply an added luxury”.
More than 250,000 people with type 1 diabetes are set to benefit from the updated guideline, which also recommends expanding the use of flash monitoring to all those with type 1 diabetes. People with the condition will be able to choose which technology is right for them.
The news means that people with type 1 diabetes will no longer have to monitor their condition with finger-prick tests as regularly as before.
In addition, NICE has recommended extending the use of flash monitoring to adults with type 2 diabetes on insulin therapy, which will benefit around 193,000 people. They will be offered the technology if any of the following apply:
They have recurrent hypoglycaemia or severe hypoglycaemia
They have impaired hypoglycaemia awareness
They have a condition or disability (including a learning disability or cognitive impairment) that means they cannot self-monitor their blood glucose by capillary blood glucose monitoring but could use an isCGM device (or have it scanned for them)
They would otherwise be advised to self-measure at least eight times a day.
Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: “By recommending the use of either real-time or flash monitoring, our independent committee has made recommendations that will be a step forward in helping all people with type 1 diabetes manage their condition.
“Many people find finger-prick testing to be painful and time consuming and the introduction of technology for all people living with type 1 diabetes will reduce this considerably. This group of people also live with the constant worry of suffering from an attack brought on by dangerously low blood sugar while they sleep. Having an alarm which will alert them if this happens will give them the peace of mind knowing they will wake up in the morning.”
Chris Askew OBE, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “These landmark guidelines promise to be transformational for people living with diabetes. Having campaigned for many years for wider access to Flash and continuous glucose monitoring, and contributed to NICE’s consultation, we are delighted that the voice of people with diabetes has been heard, and that our calls have been listened to.
“What we are seeing today is a key shift in thinking – a move to recognising that technology is an integral part of diabetes management, not simply an added luxury.”
He said there is still work to do, adding: “We welcome NICE’s commitment to addressing the inequalities which currently exist in access to Flash and CGM. Local health systems will need to support healthcare professionals to deliver these guidelines equitably and we will play our part too, in helping the NHS to get this right. But today is about celebrating a clear step towards ensuring many more people living with all types of diabetes will have access to the appropriate technology that can help them live happier and healthier lives.”
Neil Harris is General Manager of Abbott’s Diabetes Care Business in the UK and Ireland, which developed the FreeStyle Libre systems.
He commented: “The updated NICE guidelines are a significant advance, especially for people with type 2 diabetes who rely on insulin, the majority of whom have not had access to such technology on the NHS until now. We welcome the acknowledgement that Flash Glucose Monitoring can empower more informed health decisions, improving outcomes and quality of life as a result.
“Combined with the expansion of CGM access for those with type 1, the guidelines support choice to allow the right product, based on individual need, and bring us closer to a future where finger-prick testing is a thing of the past for all people who use insulin.”
Read the updated guidance here: Type 1 diabetes in adults: diagnosis and management