Healthcare professionals in England and Wales are being reminded of the importance of prescribing blood glucose test strips to patients with type 1 diabetes.
In a letter to GPs, hospital doctors, community pharmacists and Primary Care Trusts, the Department of Health said the 250,000 people in England living with type 1 diabetes depend on finger prick glucose testing to adjust their insulin dosage and keep blood sugar levels in check.
The letter, signed by officials including Dr Rowan Hillso, national clinical director for diabetes, said it was “essential” that patients are prescribed sufficient self-blood glucose measurement test strips for their clinical needs, especially as cases of diabetic ketoacidosis are rising.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a life-threatening complication of diabetes which occurs when the body runs out of insulin. It can be prevented through tight blood glucose control, but this requires the use of diabetes test strips.
The DH states in its letter that “while testing strips dispensed in primary care may appear to have a premium cost, the wider costs to the patient’s quality of life, their safety and ability to work and to the NHS of complications of uncontrolled diabetes far outweigh these costs.
“GPs and pharmacists should work collaboratively with patients to ensure the optimal amount of testing strips are prescribed and supplied to type 1 diabetics,” it adds. “Too few can lead to serious clinical consequences. Too many can lead to wastage.”
The comments come in response to concerns from charity group Diabetes UK that an increasing number of patients with type 1 diabetes are not being prescribed enough blood glucose test strips needed to self-manage their condition.

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