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NHS funding for insulin pumps
John Davis, founder of the pump support group INPUT, looks at the current funding situation in Britain
Is insulin pump therapy provided by the NHS?
In a word, yes. However, obtaining an insulin pump on the NHS is not as simple as seeing your GP and asking for it. Sometimes a doctor or diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) first suggests that a patient might benefit from a pump; some people are considered for a pump after asking their diabetes consultant or DSN about it. However, before a pump can be prescribed, the patient (or the patient's carer), the GP, and the diabetes consultant must all agree that a pump is the way forward.
In order to receive a pump and pump supplies bought by the NHS, patients must meet certain criteria. The 2008 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) technology appraisal on insulin pump therapy says:
Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion or "insulin pump" therapy is recommended as a possible treatment for adults and children 12 years and over with type 1 diabetes mellitus if:
- attempts to reach target haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels with multiple daily injections (MDI) result in the person having "disabling hypoglycaemia". For the purpose of this guidance, disabling hypoglycaemia is defined as the repeated and unpredictable occurrence of hypoglycaemia that results in persistent anxiety about recurrence and is associated with a significant adverse effect on quality of life. OR
- HbA1c levels have remained high (8.5% or above) with multiple daily injections (including using long-acting insulin analogues if appropriate) despite the person and/or their carer carefully trying to manage their diabetes.
Regarding children in particular, the NICE guidance says:
CSII therapy is recommended as a treatment option for children younger than 12 years with type 1 diabetes mellitus provided that MDI therapy is considered to be impractical or inappropriate.
The NICE guidance does not mean that a person"s HbA1C must be higher than 8.5% in order to have a pump. It mentions 8.5% because when person has an HbA1C level of 8.5% or higher, he or she is likely to require much more care from the NHS than is usually needed by someone with an HbA1C below 8.5%. Based on the results of the DCCT, most doctors now agree that it is best for all people with diabetes to keep an A1C level below 7% to prevent or delay complications of diabetes.
Also, it is important to note that severe Hypoglycaemia is not only when an ambulance is called or a person needs glucagon. According to the NICE guidance, needing help from another person to treat a hypo or being unable to do daily activities because of hypos, or fear of hypos, means Hypoglycaemia is disabling.
The NICE guidance is intended to help doctors, patients, and PCTs understand when a pump may be appropriate for a given patient. The final decision whether to go on a pump rests with the diabetes specialist ("diabetologist" or "diabetes consultant") and the patient. If a diabetologist recommends insulin pump therapy, a PCT cannot refuse to fund insulin pump therapy on grounds of cost. PCTs are also not allowed to create "waiting lists" for pump therapy. Anyone who has heard from a PCT employee rather than a practicing doctor that he or she is not eligible for a pump, or who has been placed on a "waiting list" to begin insulin pump therapy, is requested to contact INPUT for advice.
The Secretary of State for Health expects that PCTs will pay for insulin pump therapy for all patients for whom a pump is recommended by a doctor. Anyone who is self-funding their own insulin pump therapy is requested to contact INPUT for advice on whether they may be entitled to PCT funding.
The information above is taken from the INPUT website.
Created: October 2005; Last updated: 8 October 2013
Other pages about pumps
[ Funding issues | Pros and cons of pumping | Diabetes UK on pump therapy | Pumps in the Republic of Ireland | What is an insulin pump? | Just like wearing a yoyo | Not controlled, but in control! | Rewriting the diabetes rulebook | To pump or not to pump? | Pumps in pregnancy | Using the insulin pump during pregnancy | Life on a pump | UK pump news | Which pump? | MiniMed | Disetronic | Animas | Books to help with diabetes | Other pump websites | My pump ]
On 1 Jun 2005 Mandy wrote:
I have just been reading this site, it was given to me by a lady on another site from NZ. I have a 12 year old son who i am desperate to get the pump for to give him an easier life. The hospital he attends dont seem to recommend it just yet, it seems to me that its the cost more than anything. I AM going to keep fighting for it until it's easily available for all people with diabetes. Thank you.
On 26 Jan 2005 Tracie Voysey wrote:
This website was great to read. I have spoken to John many times on the phone. We are still fighting for an insulin pump for our son. The PCT say yes, the consultants are unsure. Let's hope this is the way forward by more people getting the care they would like rather than this is what you will do and this is the care you will have. Keep up the good work, John.
On 23 Sep 2004 Yvonne Leggat wrote:
I couldn't believe my luck when I found this web-site, I am now going to pursue this with my Diabetes Team. I've had diabetes for 21 years (since I was 9) and for the last 3-4 years, despite trying different regimes, in fact I've lost count, my bloods are all over the place, ranging from 2.5 - 30, I feel that the pump would benefit me greatly, since I'm newly married and wanting to start a family asap. I'm now going to push for the pump, which I think could solve all my problems.
On 7 Apr 2004 Jonathan Deacon wrote:
I have been a diabetic for 39 years and only recently have I discovered about the existence of insulin pumps. I suspect that I am unlikely to be considered a suitable candidate for NHS assistance as my diabetes is quite controlled and I rarely have hypos or hypers but having read about the obvious advantages of pumps, I would very much like to obtain a suitable device and would fund it myself.
On 20 Nov 2003 Zoe McQuade wrote:
I have had diabetes for 25 years and I have been in hospital quite a lot of times over the past. I am on 4 injections a day and I am interested in the pump. My GP said he would support me. My consultant has not agreed as yet. But with your info on this website I am determined to have a pump.
On 19 Jul 2003 Matt Morrison wrote:
I am 16 years old and have had diabetes for six years. In that time my blood glucose results were high most of the time. I hated not being able to eat what I wanted to. I have been on the pump for just two weeks, it is incredible how my results have come down so quickly. I recommend it to everyone. Julie Scott from the Disetronic team has been so helpful.
On 16 Feb 2003 Gwen Young wrote:
I am a new user of an insulin pump. I have had problems for years with high insulin requirements during the night and morning. By the time I was using 60u of Lantus and 20u of Novarapid at bed time I knew the only way forward was to use a pump. I am having wonderful support from Disetronic (Deborah) and with their generous offer of a trial period I have now been pumping for nearly 2 weeks. I think I have suprised a number of my health professionals as to the amount of insulin I require however I seem to be winning now. It would appear that I will have to fund the pump myself because my Clinical need is not great enough. I am awaiting the NICE report so hope that they will come up with the availability of funds for people like me who want the best for our bodies and prevent long term complicatios. I have enjoyed reading your site and will use some of the information to help me to find funding before my trial expires.
On 15 Dec 2002 Rebecca Wikman wrote:
I have used pump therapy for the last 15 years (since I was 14) as it is available on the Swedish NHS. However I have been living in the UK for the last 8 years and it is now time for renewal of the pump - as this treatment is not freely available in the UK I am terrified of going back to injections. These pumps offer much more control and freedom than pens and anyone who is thinking about obtaining a pump should do so as it will completely change their life for the better. I really wish my primary care group will see sense and save money in the long run as this therapy can guarantee a less troublesome complications for me in the future.
On 10 Oct 2002 Ian Holmes wrote:
Our 9 year old daughter has been on a pump since July 2002. It has been the best move we ever made. Her choices have increased, her freedom improved, she feels great and best of all her blood glucose readings are much more stable and managable. HbA1c had already shown improvement just 6 weeks after being on the pump.
On 30 Jun 2002 Beryl Ann Turnbull wrote:
I have been type 1 diabetic for the past 30 years and only recently begun to have difficulty maintaining my blood sugar levels. I feel a pump would solve my problem with regard to fluctuating bsl's, thereby avoiding hypos and hypers.
On 18 Jan 2002 Sam Watkins wrote:
I got my pump on the 8/11/2001. I have a D-TRON from Disetronic, which I got with four year interest free loan from Disetronic! This has meant that the funding is a little easier and the way I feel now is worth every penny! I have been diabetic for 24 years, and my last HbA1C was 6.6 just after Christmas. I feel really well.
On 6 Jan 2002 G Otten wrote:
Just a note from Germany: although a lot more people here get a pump than in the UK, don't think it's automatic or easy, as our health care carriers also count their pennies (euro cents). BUT, big BUT, they have also realised that the long term health AND social costs of bad diabetes therapy is very much higher than the cost of a pump.
PS: if anyone of you needs information or is moving to Germany and needs a few tips, feel free to send me a mail.
On 14 Dec 2001 Abida wrote:
For the gentleman who had concerns about being so young and on the pump, I started pump therapy when I was 15. I was able to keep playing soccer, take ballet classes and sleep late if I wanted. I am still on pump therapy five years later and have been able to keep my HbA1c's around 7.5 or so but I want to improve so I can start a family soon. I would recommend anyone to start on the pump but only if you are ready and really want to. Sometimes people think it's horrible to be attached to a machine all day but I don't mind and you have to have the same mentality. Hope this helps!
On 9 May 2001 Konstantinos Kyriakidis wrote:
I've been a diabetic for 25 yrs. I used all kinds of therapys and I must say that the pump is the best of all. I feel more independent, and using it is very easy. The pump changed my life. Before the pump I had more hypos and now I feel much better. I must say that it was a matter of getting use to it because of the steady infuson and the danger of more hypos but now I've got it under control and it is GREAT. I would like to advice everyone to get a pump.
On 15 Mar 2001 Lisa wrote:
I feel very priviliged that my diabetes centre were able to find the funding for a pump for me. I've felt healthier and more in control over the past 8 months since having the pump than I ever was on 4 injections a day. I have had diabetes for over 20 years and the last few years before the pump were very difficult with unexplained highs even when I would eat the same food at certain times every day.
On 15 Mar 2001 Nate wrote:
Well I have had diabetes for five years and I am only 18. My doctor hopes to have me on the pump very soon. Is there any major concerns out there to being so young and starting on the pump?
On 15 Mar 2001 John Neale replied:
18 is a great age to start on the pump. It's an age when daily routines can disappear and the flexibility a pump offers may be particularly useful.
On 9 Jan 2001 Yvonne Gullan wrote:
I have had diabetes for over 20 years and I am desperately in need of some help! The diabetic consultant I see told me he did not know why my blood sugars were 'swinging' around so much and that I would be better off on an insulin pump! He then said he would write to me with the details, I am still waiting. This page just makes me feel that I am not alone. Thank you.