Glasgow MSP leads call for insulin pump therapy for diabetics

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by a Newsnet reporter

Glasgow MSP, Humza Yousaf, has gathered cross party support from MSPs across Glasgow urging the local health board to make insulin pump availability more of a priority. Signatories to the letter include fellow SNP MSPs James Dornan and John Mason, Labour’s Hanzala Malik, and the Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson.  The letter has been has sent to Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board in an attempt to address the pressing issue of provision of this vital therapy.

There are two main varieties of diabetes, known as Type 1 and Type 2.  Type 1 diabetes often develops in early adulthood, and those with the condition are dependent upon regular injectionsof the hormone insulin.  Failure to regulate the body’s insulin level correctly can cause death and serious health complications.  Often a regime of regular injections is not the best way to manage the condition in certain patients, who instead can benefit from insulin pump therapy, where a continuous dose of the hormone is supplied.  

Pump therapy is not a new treatment, it was first introduced in the late 1970s however patients in the UK have consistently failed to benefit from the treatment as much as patients in other countries.  According to figures from Diabetes UK, only 2% of patients in the UK with Type 1 diabetes receive insulin pump therapy, this compares with 10-20% of such patients in other European countries and the USA.  

Commenting, Humza said: “The issue of provision of insulin pump therapy in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde is of real concern.  The figures published in the 2010 Scottish Diabetes Survey show that between 2009/10 there was an increase in provision from 0.9% to 1.1%.  This is not just disappointing as a rate of increase but when compared to the number of people with Type 1 diabetes who could benefit from this therapy (12%), it signals that there is not enough priority given to this area.

“Glasgow has one of the highest incidences of Type 1 diabetes, yet other health boards across the country are leading in terms of making this vital therapy more readily available.

“It is not often you will find politicians coming together on one platform, but when it comes to issues that are of such importance to the people of Glasgow then we have a duty to unite, regardless of what political party we represent. Insulin pump therapy is not for everyone with Type 1 diabetes, but for those that do feel a benefit the change is often life changing. I’m hoping we can sit down with the health board and chart a way forward that is to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Diabetes UK Scotland also commented, saying:

“Insulin pumps should be a mainstream therapy but in Glasgow & Clyde they remain a rarity. Only one out of ten people who could benefit from pump therapy are currently doing so. Diabetes UK Scotland is challenging the Health Board to recognise the impact of this on people with diabetes and their families, to review current arrangements and deliver a plan to meet the needs of people living with diabetes for whom insulin pumps would be a positive benefit to their future health.

“The support of local MSPs is a welcome boost to making progress on this important issue.”