Hundreds of NHS Lothian patients on waiting list for insulin pumps amid funding crisis

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One patient has been waiting for 28 months to receive the ‘life-changing’ tool.

More than 700 NHS Lothian diabetes patients are on the waiting list for insulin pumps - while fewer than 200 devices are handed out each year.

One patient has been waiting for 28 months to receive the ‘life-changing’ tool, which allows people to administer insulin and monitor their blood glucose levels constantly.

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We revealed last month that the health board had stopped providing closed-loop devices to all patients except pregnant women and children, blaming soaring demand and funding pressures for the move.

Hundreds are on the waiting list for vital diabetes technologyHundreds are on the waiting list for vital diabetes technology
Hundreds are on the waiting list for vital diabetes technology

As of April, there were 753 people on the waiting list, while only 163 had been distributed in 2023/24. In 2022/23, 176 were provided compared with 183 in 2021/22 and 104 in 2020/21.

Public health minister Jenni Minto confirmed at Holyrood yesterday that up to £8.8 million would be spent on boosting diabetes technology access.

She said the focus would be on offering pumps to all children that need them, but that availability for adults would also be expanded.

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Michelle Carr, chief officer of acute services at NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian welcomes the increased funding allocation for all health boards to help diabetes technology, particularly in improving access for children.

“We are currently reviewing the provision of our diabetes technology, specifically the hybrid closed loop system which combines an insulin pump with a linked continuous glucose monitor, and will update new and potential patients as soon as that work is complete.”

Tory MSP for Lothian Miles Briggs said: “It is very concerning that NHS Lothian are in a position where they have to severely restrict the number of insulin pumps that they provide to patients across the health board.

“An insulin pump is a game changer for the management of diabetes, which the Scottish Government have acknowledge in reports they have carried out on diabetes care.

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“Patients in NHS Lothian are not getting access to this equipment, when they would be if they lived in another health board. Insulin pumps prevent diabetes health complications in the future, which is obviously far better for the patient and saves NHS Lothian money in the long run.

“This SNP Government must work with NHS Lothian to ensure that people across Scotland get equitable access to insulin pumps.”

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