HEALTH chiefs insisted there are no restrictions on ‘vital’ test strips for diabetics in East Lancashire, after a national report found one in five patients had been ‘denied the chance to monitor their blood glucose levels’.

The Diabetes UK charity said the blood sugar test strips were being rationed by NHS managers to save money, with wide variation around the country.

The strips are an essential part of managing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

When a diabetic pricks themselves to draw blood, they apply it to the test strip. A small electronic meter can then detect how much blood glucose is present.

Gordon Dixon, chairman of the Ribble Valley branch of Diabetes UK, said he has heard ‘anecdotal evidence’ of strips being rationed in East Lancashire, but had not experienced problems.

He said: “We do think it’s going on. I know of someone who now gets one strip instead of two.”

But GP commissioners, who took over health budgets in April, said in a joint statement: “Neither East Lancashire or Blackburn with Darwen clinical commissioning groups restrict the availability of diabetes glucose testing strips. In fact statistics recently published by the Advancing Quality Allia-nce, a North West body aiming to improve the quality of health care, show that prescribing of glucose testing strips per patient on the GP diabetes register is higher than the national average in the East Lancashire area.”

Barbara Young, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said of the national findings: “When people with Type 1 or insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes have their test strips restricted or denied it has a huge impact on their life.

“Our survey showed lack of test strips was stopping them driving.”