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Hi-tech patch could end needle pain for diabetics

Thousands of people with diabetes are to get NHS access to a life-changing device which spells an end to painful finger pricks.

Health bosses last night announced the Freestyle Libre patch will be available on NHS prescription for the first time.

The device, a sensor the size of a £2 coin, automatically reads blood sugar levels from the cells just below the skin and sends it to a smartphone.

It means patients no longer have to subject themselves to the frequent and painful finger pricks currently required to monitor glucose levels.

Thousands of people with diabetes are to get NHS access to a life-changing device which spells an end to painful finger pricks (file photo)

Thousands of people with diabetes are to get NHS access to a life-changing device which spells an end to painful finger pricks (file photo)

Major studies have shown the technology significantly improves the patients’ health because they have much better information about blood sugar peaks and troughs, and so are better able to manage their condition.

The system has been available privately in the UK since February 2016, at the cost of £96 a month.

At least 20,000 people are estimated to have already used the system.

But hundreds of thousands of more people could benefit from November 1, when it becomes available on the NHS.

The decision was last night welcomed by health ministers, doctors and health charities.

Not all areas will offer the system - the decision as to whether to provide it free of charge is down to each local NHS clinical commissioning group.

Health bosses announced the Freestyle Libre patch will be available on NHS prescription for the first time (file photo)

Health bosses announced the Freestyle Libre patch will be available on NHS prescription for the first time (file photo)

But the decision by the NHS Business Services Authority to put the device on the NHS tariff means areas that want to make it available on prescription will be able to do so for the first time.

Experts called for officials to make it available as widely as possible.

The device is particularly valuable for people with type 1 diabetes - an autoimmune disease which means the body cannot produce its own insulin, stopping proper regulation of blood sugar.

The type 1 form affects 400,000 people in Britain, usually first striking in childhood or adolescence, and everyone with the condition has to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels to check whether they need an insulin injection.

It is thought to be especially useful for parents of children with type 1 diabetes, who are able to collect data from the patch

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