Neil’s Fight for Flash
A man from Poole has launched a petition to end a postcode lottery that affects people with diabetes in Dorset.
Neil Absolom, 61, is campaigning for health care commissioners in Dorset to make a potentially life-changing technology available on the NHS. Known as Flash Glucose Monitoring, it is a painless method of testing blood glucose levels.
For the past 27 years Neil has been living with Type 1 diabetes, which cannot be prevented or cured. As a result, he has developed heart problems and cannot work. He needs to test his blood glucose levels regularly and until recently checked them using a finger prick blood test. But he has struggled to manage his diabetes with this method.
On top of that, constant testing has hardened the skin on his fingers and made pricking them excruciating.
So when Neil was offered a trial of Flash Glucose Monitoring, he jumped at it. The technology uses a small sensor that people wear on their skin. It records blood sugar levels continuously and can be read by scanning the sensor whenever needed. This improved Neil’s diabetes management and freed him from frequent finger-prick testing.
But then doctors told him they were not allowed to prescribe the device to anyone in Dorset. The only way he could continue to use it was to pay for it himself.
Neil Absolom said: “Often I can’t afford the £106 a month it costs to fund Flash myself. But if I lived an hour’s drive away in Yeovil or Southampton, I would get it free on the NHS. This is very unfair, especially as it would actually save the NHS money to give me Flash on prescription. Without it, I have to finger-prick test up to 12 times a day, which costs more.”
In addition, the better diabetes control that can come with Flash can help reduce the risk of serious diabetes-related complications such as amputation, blindness and stroke.
Even though in principle Flash is available on the NHS, its use is subject to approval by local health bodies. Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has ruled that it is too expensive and there is not enough evidence of its effectiveness, putting it in the minority among CCGs in the south west.
Neil Absolom is hoping his petition will persuade Dorset County Council to hold the CCG to account and overturn its decision. Leading diabetes charity Diabetes UK is supporting him by hosting his petition on its website.
Phaedra Perry, Diabetes UK south west regional head, said: “Dorset’s refusal to provide access to this ground-breaking technology is a huge blow to people living with diabetes in the area. A blanket ban is not the way forward. Other areas in the south west have already given the go ahead for Flash to be available on prescription based on the evidence available.
“We are urgently calling on local health bosses to listen to what people living with diabetes in Dorset want and to provide the device free on prescription to all those who can benefit.”
If you live in Dorset and would like to sign the petition, go to www.diabetes.org.uk/dorset-flash