Diabetics confused by testing equipment

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 07:51 30/11/2012
Lynne Taylor
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
WORRIED: Diabetics Christchurch manager Lynne Taylor, who has type-1 diabetes, is concerned about Pharmac switching to a sole provider for diabetes equipment.

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Concerns have been raised that "someone is going to die" because of changes to blood- glucose testing equipment.

In August, Government drug-buying agency Pharmac confirmed it was switching to a sole provider for diabetes equipment and limiting diabetics to three types of subsidised glucose-testing meters, in a move set to save $10 million.

Diabetes Christchurch manager Lynne Taylor said some Christchurch pharmacies still did not have the subsidised machines in stock and many diabetics were confused about how they worked.

The meters allowed diabetics to check their glucose levels regularly. Levels that were too high or too low for a sustained period could lead to various health issues.

"There's so many changes in the health system. We feel we're not getting quite as good a meter, but no-one's got a choice. There's only one supplier," Taylor said.

"How [are] they going to educate 10,000 people in three months? We're very scared that someone is going to die."

The changes, affecting about 150,000 diabetics throughout the country who test their own blood glucose, came into effect on September 1. Diabetics had until the end of March to switch to the new equipment.

Diabetes Youth Canterbury president Christine Murray said some parents of diabetic children "don't even know" about the changes.

"If it's not broken, don't try and fix it. We had good providers."

However, Canterbury Community Pharmacy Group general manager Graeme Smith said he would be surprised if any pharmacies did not have the new meters in stock.

"There may be one or two [pharmacies] who have slipped through the cracks . . . if we can find out who they are we will make sure that's sorted."

Pharmac chief executive Steffan Crausaz said training for health professionals and patients had been under way since early September.

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- The Press

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