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Patients with diabetes will have the option to receive artificial pancreas technology

A system employing a glucose sensor beneath the skin to automatically determine insulin delivery via a pump will be offered to diabetes patients. Starting this month, the NHS will reach out to adults and children who could benefit from this technology. However, NHS leaders cautioned that it might take up to five years before everyone eligible receives access, citing challenges in procuring enough devices and the necessity to train additional staff in their usage.

Trials have shown that this hybrid closed-loop system significantly enhances quality of life and reduces the risk of long-term health complications. Endorsement from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) at the end of last year prompted the NHS to adopt this technology. Approximately 300,000 individuals in the UK have type 1 diabetes, which requires constant monitoring of blood glucose levels and daily insulin administration.

The new technology automates this process, mimicking the function of a pancreas by adjusting insulin delivery. It necessitates manual input of food intake information during mealtimes for accurate functioning. The aim is to prevent life-threatening fluctuations in blood glucose levels and improve overall control, thereby reducing the risk of complications like heart disease and kidney disease.

Scotland has already initiated the offering of this technology, with Wales and Northern Ireland likely to follow suit soon. Patients like Gemma Lavery, 38, from Plymouth, have experienced life-changing benefits from this device, which has stabilized their diabetes management and reduced stress.

Prof Partha Kar, NHS national specialty advisor for diabetes, hailed this development as a significant step forward for type 1 diabetes patients, emphasizing its potential to enhance both medical care and quality of life. NHS England diabetes clinical director Dr. Clare Hambling echoed these sentiments, highlighting the transformative impact this technology could have.

Diabetes UK chief executive Colette Marshall expressed excitement about the rollout, describing it as a landmark moment. Nice’s approval last December paved the way for the NHS’s five-year plan to provide this system to eligible individuals, including children, pregnant women, and those with specific HbA1c readings.

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