Belfast Telegraph

Diabetics are losing out due to stalemate

Editor's Viewpoint

The health authorities throughout the UK have recognised the merit of a revolutionary new diabetes testing kit by making it available on the NHS. It makes the vital task of monitoring blood sugar levels much easier for people with the condition and does away with the need for pinprick tests.

Those who already use the device testify to the way it has helped them keep on top of the condition and how it is especially useful for monitoring children, without being as invasive as the current method.

Being new technology it does not come cheap and that is the nub of the problem for many of those with the condition. Currently it is only available free in the province to those suffering Type 1 diabetes, whose clinical need is deemed to be the greater.

But as our story today reveals, those suffering from Type 2 diabetes can also benefit from using the device. All diabetes carries potential dangers, right up to death, and anything which makes it easier for patients to manage the condition should be utilised.

As the sufferer quoted in our report points out, careful management of Type 2 diabetes would mean fewer crisis episodes and hospital intervention, which is always expensive. But the argument is lost before it begins because of the political deficit in Northern Ireland.

The lack of a devolved administration means that there is no forum which can tailor decisions to local needs and take account of local opinion.

Of course that is not the first example of how the stalemate at Stormont is causing problems on vital day-to-day issues, not just in health.

But health is perhaps the most important service that any administration can provide and Northern Ireland is losing out badly in this area.

It can be argued that the restriction on free provision of the device is because of the expense of making it more widely available. It can still be purchased by those deemed ineligible to get it on the NHS, but costs around £1,200 a year, a large sum for many people.

It has to be remembered that extra funding for the NHS in Northern Ireland is available from the £1bn deal agreed with the DUP for propping up the Conservative government at Westminster.

But that money has been frozen while awaiting the outcome of the talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein on the future of power-sharing.

Sadly, there is no device which can detect movement on that stalemate.

Belfast Telegraph

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