Recently in the media the NHS has seemed to come under some serious flack about how it is performing and although newspapers have stated how peoples’ attitudes towards the NHS have improved there is still a lot of negative media towards the NHS. This made my think – how would I cope without the NHS? Or even more importantly could I cope without the NHS as a Type 1 Diabetic? A quick search on google tells me the spending on diabetes by the NHS has been placed at over £1.5million an hour (www.diabetes.co.uk/cost-of-diabetes.html) or by 2035 spending will have reached £16.9 billion – shockingly that figure was predicted by the NHS in 2012! This includes both type 1 and type 2 diabetics of which 10% are type 1. I am starting to think that paying my tax every month is actually extremely beneficial to myself!
It is also thought that within 2014 £2.1billion was spent on treatments including insulin pumps and eye screening (Guardian, August 2014). I use an insulin pump and the consumables which are funded by the NHS. Furthermore I have used an insulin pump for 13 years and therefore am lucky to have a spare pump. Most hospitals do not provide spare insulin pumps to patients now, but when I got mine the company – Diestronic – provided a spare pump which then becomes your new pump after 2 years and you get a new pump as a spare. Accu-check no longer provide spare pumps, yet I am lucky enough to downgrade old pumps to become spares. Without my spare pump I would be lost. In a triathlon I leave a spare pump in transition (re-connect after the swim) and wear my pump until the last minute then leave it with my supporters nice and safe. Furthermore if I go away I have no way of injecting insulin apart from my pump. When I went to Australia I took 3 insulin pumps with me ( 2 spares). The cost of an insulin pump is between £2000 to £3000. Could I afford this? No way! Thank you NHS.
Now onto testing my blood sugar.
I have one main monitor and one spare monitor (ready to be left in a triathlon transition or as a plan B), then the cost of test strips… Recently online I have seen people saying they they are only allowed 100 test strips a month! This is crazy. I am lucky enough to get 400 a month, even with that number I can still find myself running short in times of illness or increased activity. Looking online I know my meter would be around £30 to buy. Multiply this by 2. Test strips £20 for a pack of 50. Multiply by 8. Could I afford this every month? No. I am self funding using the FreeStyleLibre, therefore my test strip use had decreased, but at £100 a month for the FreeStyleLibre it is not easy. This has shown me just how amazing the NHS is.
Now I need to take into the account that I am very, very accident prone. Recently I paid a visit to a burns unit, stayed in my own room, had plastic surgery, had multiple bandages and dressings and am now having compression garments with follow up appointments. Yes I am having to pay for my own transport to and from the hospital 200mile round trip. Yet, this does not compare in the slightest to the cost of treating a burns injury. A quick google (I hope it is accurate) provides some shocking statistics.
Ambulance transfer – £255
A and E admission – £141
Bed in a burns unit for one day – £750 (I stayed longer)
Skin graft – £1,430
Dressings – £3,253
Therapy – £1,731
Medication – £1,731
I am so thankful for the treatment I receive from the NHS and I may find it unfair that I can’t have a CGM funded on the NHS, yet looking at these figures I think I am actually very lucky! Thank you NHS for the wonderful care you provide, the wonderful consultants that I meet and visit during my year of hospital appointments and the super staff that always greet me with a smile and remember every detail about me!
Three cheers for the NHS!