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Anger At Proposed Changes For Diabetics

Health Spokesperson

14 March 2012

Diabetics have delivered Pharmac a sharp message during recent consultation over plans to switch to a new testing system, Labour’s Health spokesperson Maryan Street says.

"I have attended meetings in Porirua and Christchurch and the reaction has been the same: a sense of outrage at the lack of consumer testing or real consultation over the introduction of new meters.

"Pharmac hopes to save $10 million by contracting to a sole supplier, Auckland’s Pharmaco, which sources its meters from South Korea. It says money saved will go towards funding other pressing health concerns,” Maryan Street said.

"Yet diabetes, with all its complications of heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, gangrene and loss of quality of life, has reached epidemic levels in New Zealand and rates are increasing.

“Best practice enables diabetics – from children to the elderly - to be as self-managing as possible.

"The meters are lifesavers. Changing this essential piece of equipment without trialling it amongst the 120,000 people who will have to use it, is hugely disruptive and potentially dangerous.

"Pharmac heard diabetics talk about the fact that the new meter is not back-lit, which means it is impossible to read in the middle of the night if someone is having a hypoglycaemic event. Getting accurate information quickly from these little meters is essential to prevent the condition escalating,” Maryan Street said.

"An under-representation of Maori and Pasifika at the consultation meetings highlighted the inadequacy of the process to reach a community disproportionately affected by the disease.

"We also heard from diabetes nurse specialists and educators who work with these people about the impact that retraining diabetics to use new, unfamiliar equipment is likely to have.

"If Pharmac is made to proceed with this provisional contract for the sake of saving money, the government will have to face the consequences, which in this case could be life-threatening," Maryan Street said.



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