We have written about how the NHS can sometimes struggle with providing innovative treatments and  procedures, but how can you not use them when they come along and prove to be beneficial?

Fergus Walsh, writing for the BBC on 1 April 2022, reported that nearly 900 patients with type 1 diabetes in England are testing a potentially life-changing artificial pancreas. It can potentially eliminate the need for finger prick tests and prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic attacks, where blood sugar levels fall too low. If this happens, there can be serious damage to internal organs, eyes and the nervous system.

It is estimated that there about 400,000 people in the UK with type 1 diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes is more serious than Type 2 as the body can’t produce insulin at all, the hormone which regulates blood sugar levels. Type 2 can sometimes be controlled with “life-style” changes-diet and exercise, for instance.

NHS England says it is the first nationwide test of the technology in the world.

How it works is that a sensor is placed under the skin which continually monitors blood sugar levels and a pump automatically adjusts the amount of insulin required to keep them stable.

Children may especially benefit from the development as they can find the finger prick tests and the insulin administration painful and traumatic. They often have to have their blood sugars tested during the night and this leads to disrupted sleep for children and parents alike.  Sometimes they can’t join in with things like “sleep-overs” or camps, because there would be no-one available to dela with their diabetes needs, so they can miss out.

For adults, it means that their day may be not interrupted by the need for constant monitoring and they can go to work or for a day out with confidence.  It could lead to a general all-round improvement in the quality of life for all Type 1 diabetics.

It does also mean that it may relieve even a small amount of pressure on the NHS in having to deal with diabetic crises.

The system isn’t completely perfect or automated yet, as the level of carbohydrates eaten still has to be inputted.  But it is certainly a huge step forward and has lots of potential to become fully automated.

To date, 875 patients have joined the pilot, which will enrol up to 1,000 people. The results will then be assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (“NICE”) in considering where to roll out the technology more widely. NICE had already recommended that everyone in England with type 1 diabetes be offered some form of continuous glucose monitoring via a sensor attached to the skin.

So it’s not all doom and gloom!

If you have a legal medical negligence query, get in touch with one of our specialist lawyers on 0333 3580 393 or email wecanhelp@ringroselaw.co.uk

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