Monday, June 24, 2024
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Labour pledges smartphones for diabetic children to help them track their blood sugar


Smartphones will be given to diabetic children to track their blood sugar under Labour’s plans for the NHS.

Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to give all 32,000 children with type 1 diabetes a mobile phone so that they can take advantage of new glucose monitoring devices.

The Labour leader said he had reached a deal with Virgin Media O2 to supply the phones in a move that shows his government would “work hand-in-glove with business” to improve the NHS.

On Monday Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, vowed to use the private sector as he criticised “middle-class lefties” who treat the NHS as a “shrine”.

“We will also use spare capacity in the private sector to cut the waiting lists,” he told the Sun.

“Middle-class lefties cry ‘betrayal’. The real betrayal is the two-tier system that sees people like them treated faster, while working ­families like mine are left waiting for longer.”

Mr Streeting and Sir Keir unveiled plans to give children mobile phones compatible with continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) available on the NHS on a visit to King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

Adjust what they eat and drink

The partnership between Virgin and the NHS would build on work by the charity Supporting Children with Diabetes (SCD), which has already given out around 500 donated phones to children.

The CGMs allow anyone with diabetes to monitor their glucose levels by checking their smartphone and receiving notifications if it is dropping too low or going too high so they can adjust what they eat and drink and when.

Sir Keir said: “It’s a travesty that hundreds of children with type 1 diabetes can’t afford smartphones to take advantage of new monitors which check and monitor glucose levels.

“We need an innovative and collaborative approach to tackle this head-on. That’s why my Labour government will work hand-in-glove with leading businesses to break down the barriers to access.”

He said a 10-year plan to modernise the NHS would bring it into the digital age and “give all children the best possible start in life”.

Many are forced to finger prick

Around 32,000 children in the UK are currently living with the condition.

Carolyn Goldhill, chief executive of SCD, said many of those affected are forced to finger prick to test levels.

Labour said the NHS would identify children in need of a smartphone and direct them to the charity. It has also said it would digitise the “red book” given to parents to track their newborn’s medical records as they grow.

Mr Streeting said: “There is a revolution in medical technology taking place. Under the Tories, the NHS is failing to secure the advantages of AI and new treatments for its patients, but private health care won’t.

“If this continues, the two-tier healthcare system that is emerging in our country today will grow, the gap between public and private will widen, and the NHS will become the poor man’s service.

Labour will reform the NHS so it takes full advantage of modern technology to deliver better care for all patients.”

Nicola Green, corporate affairs director of Virgin Media O2  said: “As someone with type 1 diabetes, I have first-hand experience of how smartphone technology can help manage the condition.

“The recycled devices that Virgin Media O2 is donating will reduce the hassle and stress for those families affected by diabetes.”



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