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Testing times: access to diabetes test strips 


Our survey found that 1 in 4 people face difficulties getting the amount of test strips they need to test their blood glucose (sugar) levels.

This is both shocking and dangerous. Testing regularly is important for all people with Type 1 diabetes and many people with Type 2 diabetes, depending on their medication and personal situation.

We heard from people that these restrictions created serious problems in terms of managing their diabetes effectively. We know that over the longer term poor management can lead to complications.

Have you faced restrictions? 

We want to make sure people know their rights and can challenge restrictions to their test strips. In most cases, where people challenge the restriction to their test strips, the decision is reversed.

Contact your local decision maker

In England and Wales we’ve created an online action which allows you to write to local health bosses to raise and challenge any restrictions you have faced.  

If you're in Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can share your experience to help us understand more about what's happening in your area. 

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Find out more about the test strips campaign

Rationing blood glucose test strips is unsafe and puts the health of people with diabetes at risk. It is an unacceptable example of short-termism, storing up long-term costs for the NHS because diabetes complications are extremely expensive to treat.

The restriction of test strips and meters to people with diabetes is driven by the need for short term cost savings and rarely by the needs, or clinical benefit, of people with diabetes.  This can impact negatively on the immediate and long term health of people with diabetes, undermining their ability to self-manage and take control of their condition. It can also impact on safety, quality of life and can displace the costs from the NHS to people living with the condition and their carers when they then buy test strips privately.

In addition, DVLA guidance and legislation and NICE guidance is not being met in cases that come to the attention of Diabetes UK.

Diabetes UK calls for strong action and guidance at a national level across the UK to ensure that everyone with diabetes can access the kit they need to self-manage their diabetes effectively. People with diabetes should not have to fight for this when they are already managing a condition that requires constant attention.

Local policies should allow sufficient choice and flexibility for individual circumstances to be taken into account when prescribing test strips and meters for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes should be involved in devising local policies and consulted about the impact this will have on them..