Call for NHS Fife to make diabetes monitor available

Kenneth Connolly with Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance.
Kenneth Connolly with Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance.

Diabetic sufferers in Fife are missing out on a life-saving monitoring device which is being offered for free by the NHS in other areas of Scotland.

Currently, it can cost £96 for the Freestyle Libre device, which means people with type 1 diabetes would no longer have to prick their finger to take blood sugar readings throughout the day.

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance is calling on NHS Fife to make the device available to those who need it.

The device has been available to patients in some NHS areas since late 2017 after it was added to the Scottish Drug Tariff from November 1, but not to NHS Fife patients.

NHS Fife has been waiting for advice on the device from the Scottish Health Technology Group (“SHTG”). Its advice was published in July, and the SHTG has recommended the use of the device by suitable patients.

The Freestyle Libre device is a disposable sensor worn on the skin of the patient’s arm. It measures glucose levels in the body tissue by piercing the skin with a small fibre. The patient can scan the sensor with a mobile phone app or handheld device to check the reading at any convenient time.

It may allow those diabetes patients who must regularly monitor their glucose levels by pricking their finger and testing a small drop of blood to reduce the number of times they have to do so each day.

David Torrance MSP said: “I am delighted to learn of the recommendation of the device by the SHTG, particularly because the SHTG’s analysis is that it is good value for money.

“I would urge NHS Fife to take an early decision on making the device available within Fife, taking into account the advice from SHTG.”

Kenneth Connolly, who lives in Kirkcaldy, has been paying nearly £1300 a year for the device, while people living just a few miles away get it for free.

He said: “The diabetic clinic in Kirkcaldy are fantastic, but NHS Fife are really dragging their heels over this.

“It’s an injustice. All of Wales, all of Northern Ireland, 44 per cent of England, and 43 per cent of Scotland have it on prescription.

“NHS Lothian have accepted it for about the past year. People there will get it for nothing but we have to pay at least £96.

“NHS Fife sent out a memo saying they’re going to look at it again in the last quarter of this year.

“They were waiting on the Scottish Health Technology Group to look at it, which they did on July 18, and they’re still dragging their feet.

“There’s 2000 type 1 diabetics in Fife. I’d like NHS Fife to bite the bullet and give us all the chance to have a normal life.

“This technology gives us that chance.”

NHS Fife Medical Director, Dr Frances Elliot, said: “We note the publication of advice from the Scottish Health Technology Group in relation to Freestyle Libre.

“As such, a paper outlining the implications of its introduction will make its way through the necessary governance committees of NHS Fife and the Health and Social Care Partnership in the coming weeks.”