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Thousands with Type 1 diabetes in England to receive 'artificial pancreas'

Children and adults in England living with Type 1 diabetes are set to receive an “artificial pancreas” in a world-first initiative being rolled out by the NHS.

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

The system is called a Hybrid Closed Loop System, sometimes termed an artificial pancreas, where a blood sugar monitor, insulin pump and software on a person’s phone talk to each other, according to Diabetes UK.

It removes the need to draw blood with a finger prick test, or manually inject insulin for some users.

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The NHS says this could prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemia attacks, which can lead to seizures, comas or even death for people living with Type 1 diabetes.

There are currently more than 269,000 people living in England with the condition.

Identifying and treating it costs the NHS in England around £10bn a year, or 10% of its entire budget.

Local NHS services will start identifying eligible people living with Type 1 diabetes, and they have been given £2.5m to make a start on treating patients.

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

Those already benefitting include 64-year-old Les Watson from West Devon, who has had Type 1 diabetes for nearly 44 years.

He uses his phone to see his blood glucose levels, which works in tandem with an insulin pump and a monitoring patch on his arm.

“The biggest benefit that I can say is the mental load, of handling Type 1 diabetes with systems like this, is just reduced tremendously. I can sleep at night,” he told Sky News.

Dr Clare Hambling, national clinical director for diabetes, said: “This is another example of the NHS leading the way in healthcare, rolling out these ground-breaking devices across England over the next five years.

“This transformative technology holds the power to redefine the lives of those with Type 1 diabetes, promising a better quality of life as well as clinical outcomes.

“Type 1 diabetes is an easily missed diagnosis so if you are concerned about symptoms – the 4Ts – going to the Toilet, passing urine more frequently, with Thirst, feeling Tired and getting Thinner (losing weight), please come forward for support.”

Colette Marshall, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is incredibly exciting to see hybrid closed-loop technology being rolled out on the NHS in England for people with Type 1 diabetes.

“Diabetes is a tough and relentless condition, but these systems make a significant, life-changing difference.”

“This really is a landmark moment and we’ll be working with the NHS and others to ensure a fair rollout that reaches people as quickly as possible.”


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