Published on 29 November 2017

Report reveals device for people with type 1 diabetes has improved long term health of users.

A new report has highlighted the importance of introducing medical devices that can improve long-term healthcare and reduce costs to NHS funds.

It is estimated that people with type 1 diabetes using insulin pumps could be saving the NHS up to £22 million per year.

A recently published report by the Medical Technology Group (made up of patient groups, research charities and medical device manufacturers) concluded that a further £476 million in savings could be generated from the use of eight technologies in reduced long-term health costs and benefit payments each year.

The authors believe that if that money was put back into the NHS it could provide funds for 20,000 nurses or 10.5 million GP visits.

The report estimated that around 5% of those savings came from supplying people with type 1 diabetes with insulin pumps.

For every 100 people with type 1 diabetes who use an insulin pumps around £23,000 to £38,000 could be saved each year, according to the report.

A person holding an insulin pump.

Barbara Harpham, Chair of the Medical Technology Group, said: “Medical technology such as insulin pumps has an enormous impact, both in terms of the quality of life that it offers patients and in the cost savings to the health service and the wider economy.

“Very often a single procedure can get a patient back to work or caring for their family and can instantly eliminate thousands of pounds in longer term treatment or unplanned admissions. In fact, we have not yet tapped into the full potential of all the medical technology currently available.

“The trouble is that the up-front cost of medical technology often means patient access is being limited and cheaper short-term solutions being chosen; in other words, a false economy.

“With the NHS budget under increasing pressure, it’s time we rethink the approach to rationing medical treatments that gives people back their lives. It may look good on paper in this budget year, but doesn’t benefit patients and costs the health service more in the long run.”

Latest figures, published in the recent National Diabetes Audit, showed that 15% of people with type 1 diabetes currently use an insulin pump - around 60,000 people in the UK.

By supporting this number of people to access insulin pumps the NHS can make savings of £13.8 million to £22.8 million per year.

A significant variation in access to insulin pumps was reported, with uptake in 2017 varying from 5% to 60%. A number of Trusts reportedly had just 1 in 20 people with type 1 diabetes on an insulin pump, compared to others where the figures is closer to 7 out of 10.

The Medical Technology Group hoped the findings of their report will lead to a debate on the approach to the uptake and use of medical technology and encourage the NHS to stop “rationing” medical treatments that could improve people’s lives, whilst also making savings to medical budgets.

Read the Medical Technology Group report
Find out more about type 1 diabetes
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