Edinburgh diabetic patient will be denied successful new technology she helped to trial due to health cuts

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Health cuts mean an Edinburgh woman who has been successfully trialling new technology to control diabetes will have to hand back the equipment and no longer benefit from the innovation.

Megan Ormond, herself a nurse, has had diabetes for all her teenage and adult life and has been taking part in a study of a new system which avoids patients having to inject insulin. The “closed loop” system involves an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor that “talk to each other” to help manage patients’ blood sugar levels.

Sarah Boyack says patients’ opportunity to improve their quality of life is being snatched away. Sarah Boyack says patients’ opportunity to improve their quality of life is being snatched away.
Sarah Boyack says patients’ opportunity to improve their quality of life is being snatched away.

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Since she started using the system, her glucose levels have been the best for her entire time with diabetes. And she was assured taking part in the trial would secure her permanent access to the technology more quickly.

However, she has now been told that, due to budget cuts, the closed loop system will not be made available to her after the study. NHS Lothian’s financial pressures mean it is unable to roll out the system at the expected rate.

Ms Ormond said: “When I got told that there is potentially no funding for me to remain on the system, I felt let down and upset. It’s like dangling a sweet in front of a child and then taking it away.

“I was informed a few months back that it was highly likely that I would remain on the system but that’s clearly not the case. Part of my job of being a nurse is advocating for the most vulnerable in society but who is advocating for us type 1 diabetics?”

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Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament chamber, noting the public health minister Jenny Munto had told her last year that the Scottish Government’s aim was to improve access to the new technology at the earliest opportunity,

And the government’s diabetes improvement plan describes the development of the closed loop system as “the biggest advance in management of type 1 diabetes since the advent of insulin therapy.

But Ms Boyack said: “Patients across Edinburgh have told me that they will not get those innovative solutions because, even though they are clinically appropriate, the health board faces a severe financial situation. Even worse, a patient who was on a trial that was successful has been told that she will have to return to her glucose pump system, even though the closed-loop system has made a huge difference to her health and quality of life.”

Ms Minto expressed sympathy with the patients and said she would be happy to meet Ms Boyack and her constituents “to hear directly about how the situation is impacting them”, as well as continuing discussions with clinical leads.

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Afterwards, Ms Boyack said: “Megan’s case shows the absolutely shocking state the SNP Government has allowed NHS Lothian to fall into. Life changing technology and treatment are being denied to patients due to a lack of funding. That is unacceptable anywhere in Scotland, never mind our nation’s capital.

“The Scottish Government must act to ensure Megan and other diabetics are able to access this ground-breaking treatment as they were promised. There is real opportunity to improve the quality of life for diabetes patients in Edinburgh, but that opportunity isn’t just being denied to my constituents its being snatched away.”

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