A high-tech new monitor for Type 1 diabetes that should spell the end of the infamous finger prick test is to be available on prescription for the first time.
The Freestlye Libre patch has been available privately in Britain since February 2016 and has cost patients £96 a month, with at least 20,000 people estimated to have used it.
However, healthcare officials have now announced that as of November 1st 2017, it will be available on NHS prescription for all the NHS clinical commissioning groups that wish to implement it.
The device is around the size of a £2 coin and is placed on the back of the upper arm. It uses a tiny filament that measures just the width of three human hairs across to penetrate the upper level of the skin to read to glucose levels in the substance between skin cells.
Results are then sent to a linked smartphone using flash sensing, which is the same technology used in contactless card payments. Each patch lasts two weeks before it needs to be replaced, which should see pharmacists busy with dispensing for local patients.
It means people with diabetes will no longer have to carry out the regular and painful needle finger pricks to monitor their blood glucose and will also have much more accurate information about their blood sugar peaks and troughs, potentially leading to better management.
Use of the devices is also likely to help children with diabetes, as parents are able to collect information even when their child is asleep and can monitor their blood sugar during school if teachers are instructed to take readings.
However, patients will still need to perform capillary blood glucose monitoring as usual.
The decision to provide the patches on the NHS has been widely welcomed, with Chris Askew from Diabetes UK calling it "fantastic news".
"Not since the transition from urine testing to finger-prick testing has there been such potential to transform the lives of people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes through technology," he added.
Type 1 diabetes is estimated to affect some 400,000 people in Britain and is usually diagnosed in childhood. Unlike Type 2, it is not linked to obesity or diet and cannot be reversed.