A LEADING charity has discovered 22 per cent of people living with diabetes in the South West were not prescribed enough test strips, a vital piece of kit to monitor blood glucose.

In a new report by Diabetes UK - Testing Times - it was found that nationally one in four people had either experienced restrictions or were refused test strips on the NHS compared to one in five people four years ago.

The UK-wide survey for Diabetes UK also found more than half of people experiencing problems getting test strips had Type 1 diabetes.

The charity says this is of particular concern as NICE recommends all adults with Type 1 diabetes should routinely self-monitor blood glucose levels, testing at least four times a day.

People with diabetes use test strips in blood glucose monitors that help them to be more in control of the condition. If not managed well, diabetes can lead to devastating complications such as amputations, blindness, heart disease and stroke.

The charity is also concerned people with Type 2 say they were advised they did not need to test their blood sugar. Yet they should if their diabetes is treated with insulin and/or medication that can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).

Diabetes UK is calling for strong action and guidance at a national level across the UK to make sure that everyone with diabetes gets the kit they need to self-manage effectively.

Diabetes UK south west regional head, Phaedra Perry said: “No one with Type 1 diabetes should have their test strips restricted. It is a false economy and causes people to face stressful decisions about whether to test or not.

“As well as being vital for people with Type 1 diabetes, anyone with Type 2 diabetes can benefit from testing so should be supported to do so if it is helping them to better manage their condition. We urge people to challenge restrictions and refusals, as people with diabetes in the south west of England tell us that this approach is very often successful. “

“Local policies should allow sufficient choice and flexibility for individual circumstances to be taken into account when prescribing test strips and meters for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

“Of greater importance is helping people to understand how to test appropriately and how to use their results to help them improve their diabetes control. This would secure greater savings in the long term than simply restricting essential equipment.”

Anyone having problems getting test strips on NHS prescription can call Diabetes UK’s helpline on 0345 123 2399 or visit the charity’s website for a free advocacy pack.