§ 93. Mr. Hannam
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plans to make diabetic blood testing strips available on National Health Service prescriptions.
§ Mr. Newton
Yes. The forthcoming White Paper on primary care will indicate our intention to make blood174W glucose testing strips, which are at present available on the NHS only through hospitals, available on general practitioner prescription as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made. We hope this will be in the course of next year.
Wider availability of these strips, which enable diabetics to check their position more closely than by the alternative of urine testing, will help more diabetics to monitor and treat their condition in their own homes, thus increasing their independence. It should also, therefore, assist in reducing unnecessary demands on hospital services.
There are some 1 million diabetics in the country, with about 50,000 under medical supervision. Many of these will benefit from the introduction of blood testing strips. There are some uncertainties, for example about the numbers of people who will wish to use the strips, which mean that costs cannot yet be estimated with precision, but they may be of the order of £10 million in a full year.
I am glad that we are now able to propose this further improvement in services for diabetics, following closely on the action we have already taken to make disposable syringes and needles available to them on general practitioner prescription from the beginning of last September.