Steve McCabe MP asks PM for clarification following comments about access to diabetes technology

Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham, Selly Oak) has written to the Prime Minister after she claimed that Freestyle Libre blood glucose monitoring system is available on the NHS. Steve has asked the Prime Minister to clarify her comments after being inundated with emails from people across the country saying that they do not have access to it.

In an question to her Steve commended the Prime Minister, who has Type 1 diabetes, for the way in which she manages her condition, highlighted that she benefits from the Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system herself, and asked her to intervene to make it available to all those who could benefit from it.  

Since asking his question Steve McCabe has been inundated with people from across the country telling him that they do not have access to flash glucose technology, despite what the Prime Minister told him. Indeed, individuals from the Prime Minister’s own constituency of Maidenhead have written to Steve to tell him that they do not have access to it.

Flash Glucose Monitoring allows people living with diabetes to continuously monitor their blood glucose levels, and removes the need for painful finger prick testing. Flash Glucose Monitoring gives people access to better and more accurate information surrounding trends in their blood glucose levels, including at times when they might otherwise not be checking; during the night or when they’re at work, for example. The technology has been described as ‘life-changing’ and a number of constituents who contacted Steve about this issue have described how the technology could transform their diabetes management, reducing the risk of long-term diabetes related complications. The technology is particularly helpful for young children who are living with the condition and parents living in Steve’s constituency have described how it could make a real difference to their ability to track their children’s health.

The technology is there for people living in Wales, Scotland and N Ireland but in England more than 35% of those living with diabetes are not benefitting because of NHS rationing. In fact those who come under the Birmingham and Solihull CCG are denied access to the technology but their neighbours living in Dudley can make use of the system. This reflects the penny-pinching so many CCG’s are having to engage in as a result of budget cuts.

Steve McCabe said:

“ After so many people contacted me about this issue following my PMQ I wanted to ask the Prime Minister whether she still believed that Freestyle Libre is available on the NHS or whether access is in fact restricted and subject to postcode rationing, as I suggested. Perhaps Mrs May’s own access to the technology is because her CCG at 10 Downing Street prescribes it or perhaps she personally pays the £50 it costs every two weeks. Either way I want to give the Prime Minister an opportunity to clarify her comments, given that what she told me appears to contradict the experiences of many people. It is quite simply unfair that an individual’s postcode or financial means dictate their access to potentially life-changing diabetes care and I sincerely hope the Prime Minister will consider intervening in this matter because if it’s good enough for her it should be good enough for everyone else”

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Steve McCabe

Steve McCabe is the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, and has been an MP continuously since 1 May 1997.

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