NHS rolls out artificial pancreas in world first move

Tens of thousands of children and adults living with type 1 diabetes across England are set to receive an ‘artificial pancreas’ in a world-first initiative being rolled out by the NHS.

The groundbreaking device continually monitors a person’s blood glucose, then automatically adjusts the amount of insulin given to them through a pump.

Local NHS systems will start identifying eligible people living with type 1 diabetes who health chiefs believe could benefit from the Hybrid Closed Loop system- sometimes called an artificial pancreas – from today. There are currently 269,095 people living in England with type 1 diabetes.

The technology will mean some people with type 1 diabetes will no longer need to inject themselves with insulin but rely on technology to receive this life saving medication.

This can also help prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemia attacks, which can lead to seizures, coma or even death for people living with type 1 diabetes.

NHS England has provided local health systems with £2.5 million so they are ready to start identifying patients that can benefit.

The mass rollout of the artificial pancreas builds on a successful pilot of the technology by NHS England, which saw 835 adults and children with type 1 diabetes given devices to improve the management of their condition.

Each year, the NHS in England currently spends around £10 billion a year – around 10% of its entire budget – on identifying and treating diabetes.

In Somerset we recognise that this technology will offer significant advantages to patients.

NHS Somerset is working closely with the both the NHSE Regional Diabetes Team and local hospital services to consider the implications of these guidelines. We will consider the new NICE Technology Appraisal so that this HCL technology is accessible to as many of the appropriate individuals to ensure and achieve the best outcomes for them.  An element of this local review will be to consider the significant resource implications of this change within an already limited budget which will include funding required to implement any revised policy.

This process will take place over the winter months. Once decisions have been made it has been agreed the diabetes teams will start to inform the patients it will affect.

We know that some patients have been eagerly anticipating these NICE recommendations and are very keen to be able to access the technology quickly, however the process we are undertaking will ensure that we are able to offer it to as many people as possible with the appropriate education and support required.

For patients wishing to raise their concerns further please direct them to the Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) team, NHS Somerset

Email somicb.pals@nhs.net or Telephone 0800 851067