In a major expansion of the Flash glucose monitoring rollout, people with learning disabilities will be eligible for a Flash device to help them manage any type of diabetes, provided they use insulin to treat their condition.
Bradley Emmans, who is from Portsmouth and has Downs Syndrome, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 9 months old. He has recently prescribed a Flash glucose monitor which will help him to manage his condition via a mobile app.
Each Flash device is the size of a £2 coin and is worn for up to 14 days at a time on the back of the upper arm. Having this means Bradley no longer needs multiple finger prick checks a day in order to monitor his blood sugar levels.
The information collected by Flash helps Bradley, his family, and his carers track his sugar levels 24/7. The monitor alerts them when the level is too high or too low, reducing the risk of hypos which can be fatal.
It also allows his clinical team to identify what insulin changes are required in order to achieve optimal glucose control and keep Bradley well.
Bradley’s Dad, Clifford Emmans said:
“Before Flash, Bradley’s diabetes control was not good. His levels were always high, meaning we had to do frequent finger prick checks which Bradley hated. So much so, he developed severe anxiety about his hands being touched.
“He doesn’t recognise the signs of changes in his glucose levels, so Flash not only does that for him, but it also tells me what Bradley isn’t able to.
“Bradley loves going to concerts, but before Flash it was always a hassle to check his levels in the middle of the action as it would mean getting all the kit out in an unsterile environment. Now he has Flash, Bradley can carry on dancing and I simply wave my phone past his arm. I’ve got my reading, no one in the crowd is any the wiser and Brad is happy.
“Now Bradley’s glucose levels sit at around 6 or 7 which is a huge improvement, and his anxiety has dramatically reduced. Flash has been a total blessing and it has completely changed our lives.”
Duncan Burton, Chief Nurse for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South East said:
“This announcement is a fantastic example of how the NHS is prioritising the use of the latest technology to support people with learning disabilities.
“Flash glucose monitors can make a huge difference to the way people with a learning disability can manage their diabetes, helping them to stay well and out of hospital.”
The original roll out of Flash devices only applied to select patients with Type 1 diabetes, but many people with diabetes and a learning disability have Type 2 diabetes. The NHS is now offering Flash to all patients with a learning disability and diabetes if they use insulin to manage their condition.
Up to 3,000 people are expected to benefit from the roll out to people with a learning disability.