One in every 7 patients with diabetes type 2 in the United Kingdom either does not have access to test strips, or has had his/her supplies reduced over the last 24 months. Not having access to proper supplies is a source of anxiety and worry for the majority of these patients, according to the Diabetes.co.uk April 2011 Survey.

The authors of the survey report say that their findings go completely against the theory that home tests may cause anxiety or depression.

Home testing is a vital part of good diabetes control. It gives patients the opportunity to control their blood sugar levels, and work out which foods and routines affect blood sugar levels.

With home testing, the patient is able to make informed decisions regarding lifestyle.

Among patients whose supply of testing strips was either withdrawn or reduced:
  • 19% said their lack of access to testing supplies did not make them anxious
  • 60% said they experienced some anxiety
  • 21% said it made them very anxious
The authors pointed out that 80% with some or high anxiety is a very high proportion.

One of the reasons for restricting testing supply access - to prevent anxiety and/or depression - appears to have had precisely the opposite result.

Having access to testing strips is a huge issue among the UK's 2.4 millions diabetes type 2 patients, according to Diabetes.co.uk.

Example of Steve

Steve is regarded by his GP (general practitioner, primary care physician) as a "star patient". He says he relies on testing strips to be able to control his diabetes, as well as helping his motivation.

Steve said:

"To keep my blood glucose under control, I have to check my levels several times daily and also monitor closely, when I experiment with foods and meals, to continually strive to keep control. The NHS insists that diabetes is progressive and hence if that is the case, then I must be extra vigilant with my testing to ensure that my levels do not begin to deteriorate."

Unfortunately, even though his GP knows he has excellent control, he is not supplying Steve with the testing strips.

Steve said:

"The most perplexing observation is that despite telling me how successful I am by managing my own condition, my GP insists that I should not be undergoing self administered blood tests. They believe that testing causes obsession and depression. Well in my view the excellent results I achieve lift my spirit and any regression due to an inability to test certainly would induce depression.

Another observation is that the lack of provision of test strips is a universal problem despite NICE guidelines, which oppose arbitrary banning of test strip prescription."

There are hundreds of thousands of patients, who like Steve, have had their diabetes under control, and a good quality of life, thanks to home testing supplies. In fact, not having adequate supplies will most likely increase their risk of complications associated with diabetes type 2.

Steve added:

"I have met many fellow diabetics on forums, at help groups and clinics and out in the real world. One trend, which is absolutely apparent, is that the most dedicated and successful diabetics are those that closely monitor their blood glucose and modify their habits to ensure optimum results.

I would suggest that if the growing army of diabetics who are taking personal responsibility for their condition continues apace, then this will result in enormous savings for the NHS and they should be strongly supporting these people and encouraging them by providing free blood glucose test strips."

www.diabetes.co.uk/

Written by Christian Nordqvist