Getting an Insulin Pump

There is a high level of demand for insulin pumps but currently the UK lags behind other European countries in its provision of insulin pumps.

This article looks at why this has been the case as well as what to consider when considering moving onto insulin pump therapy.

How many people actually have insulin pumps?

The number of people that actually have an insulin pump is significantly lower in the UK that in other countries.

Current data on insulin pumps is difficult to obtain, but Germany leads the field in the number of people with insulin pumps. In Britain, it is estimated that only around 1% of people with type 1 diabetes have an insulin pump.

Why do diabetics in the UK have less access to insulin pumps?

In the UK, different healthcare funding policies and perceptions of insulin pumps have so far led to them being less common than in other countries.

Unfortunately, despite current NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), there is something of a postcode lottery in terms of who receives an insulin pump.

NICE advise that diabetics should be provided with an insulin pump depending on their need, choice and suitability.

In 2012, the Scottish Government announced that £1.5 million pounds would be spent to allow 480 young people to benefit from insulin pump therapy.

  • Read more about insulin pump therapy and eligibility criteria

What is CSII and what does it have to do with insulin pumps?

Insulin pumping is also known as Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion (CSII).

CSII is increasingly popular for diabetes treatment, and NICE are set to review insulin pump therapy.

What is the future of insulin pumps in the UK ?

Insulin pump therapy is a successful alternative insulin delivery option. Future recommendations are for increased provision, including follow-up, support and education. This many see pump centres developed and teams that deliver pump therapy.

Is insulin pump therapy suitable for everyone?

Unfortunately, insulin pump therapy is not suitable for everyone. However, successful cases of insulin pump use have been achieved by diabetics of almost any age and type. Pump therapy has been used by diabetic children, teenagers and adults, not to mention pregnant women and infants.

To be suitable for anyone, insulin pumps need thorough explanation and training.

In order to successfully use an insulin pump, diabetics need to understand how insulin works and is affected by food and exercise.

Is insulin pump therapy very expensive?

According to research conducted by NICE into the costs of CSII, insulin pump therapy costs around £1650 per person per annum.

The main cost is associated with initial purchase of the pump and its accessories, which can be much more.

An insulin pump can be bought but because they are expensive, most people in the UK with an insulin pump receive it from the NHS. Note that if you receive an insulin pump from the NHS, your NHS trust may require you to insure it.

  • Read more on insuring an insulin pump

Do insulin pumps increase quality of life for diabetic patients?

Recent reviews are uncertain that quality of life with an insulin pump actually improves.

However, some studies do indicate that positive benefits have been recorded by insulin pump users. In order to accurately assess the level of life benefits, further research is required.