Currently only children and those under the age of 21 are entitled to HSE reimbursement for the ‘Freestyle Libre’, a blood glucose sensor which rules out the need for diabetics to take prick tests.
It means that upwards of 17,000 Irish people living with diabetes have to pay privately for the device.
Waterford woman Liz Murphy lives with the condition, and has been campaigning for the ‘Freestyle Libre’ to be made open to all.
She says the device has been hugely beneficial for her, as it eliminates the need for constant prick tests and allows for a consistent ready of blood glucose levels.
“It gives me a lot more confidence that I’m not going to go low, especially at night,” she says. “With this, I can take corrective action and can see how my blood is going at night. It’s giving me a night’s sleep.”
In a statement, the Irish Diabetes Community say that the current distribution of ‘Freestyle Libre’ contravenes the equal right to treatment of diabetics, regardless of age.
‘Over 17,000 people with type 1 diabetes have been excluded from scheme. There are approximately 20,000 people with type 1 diabetes in Ireland. According to the 2012 Irish Paediatric Diabetes Audit, there are 2,750 children under 16 years with Type 1 diabetes. With the current restrictions on the reimbursement scheme only a small percentage of that number will be included and the 17,000 adults with type 1 all excluded.
The HSE’s decision goes against the Equal Status Acts 2000 – 2004 – which states it is “unlawful for in Ireland to discriminate when providing goods, services or facilities on the basis” of a person’s age. Unlike the NHS whose guidelines on access to the Libre state they are “committed to promoting equality, eliminating unlawful discrimination and fostering good relations between people with particular protected characteristics and others.’