Diabetes patients receive artificial pancreas on NHS in world-first

Around 1,000 adults and children with type 1 diabetes have become part of the first ever trial of artificial pancreases which could prove life-altering.  

The groundbreaking hybrid closed loop system is being ran in a pilot scheme across 35 NHS diabetes centers across England.  

If successful, the new tech will remove the need for finger prick tests and will also prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemic attacks.  

The artificial pancreas works by continually monitoring blood glucose levels and automatically adjusts the amount of insulin given through a pump. 

Professor Partha Kar, NHS National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes, said: “Having machines monitor and deliver medication for diabetes patients sounds quite sci-fi like, but when you think of it, technology and machines are part and parcel of how we live our lives every day. 

“A device picks up your glucose levels, sends the reading across to the delivery system – aka the pump – and then the system kicks in to assess how much insulin is needed. 

“It is not very far away from the holy grail of a fully automated system, where people with type 1 diabetes can get on with their lives without worrying about glucose levels or medication”. 

The pilot forms part of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which is helping to tackle and treat diabetes.  

Aside from the physical benefits of the innovation, it is hoped that it will help to alleviate the mental burden on people with type 1 diabetes. 

Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “This technology has the potential to transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, improving both their quality of life and clinical outcomes. 

“The trial will generate real-world data which will hopefully support the case for more people having access to this life-changing tech in the future. And while widening access to diabetes tech remains a priority for Diabetes UK, the NHS’ rollout of this scheme is a very significant and positive step in the right direction. 

“We are proud of our legacy of artificial pancreas research and will continue to support NHS England as the pilot progresses”. 

Just yesterday new guidance from NICE announced that everyone with type 1 diabetes is eligible for a wearable glucose monitor on the NHS.

Both the flash wearable glucose monitors and the ‘sci-fi’ like pancreases are helping to make headway towards the NHS’ Long Term Plan goals. 

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