The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is recommending the use of official hybrid closed loop systems to help patients with type 1 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels.

NICE has published new draft guidance for patients in England and Wales. It says that around 105,000 people in England are set to be offered the ‘artificial pancreas’ technology, which will allow them to go about their lives without having to continually monitor their blood glucose levels.

Hybrid closed loop systems use a continuous glucose monitor sensor that is attached to the body. This transmits data to a body-worn insulin pump. The pump uses the data collected to run a mathematical calculation to determine how much insulin needs to be delivered via the pump to ensure healthy blood glucose levels are maintained.

A pilot into the hybrid closed loop system was carried out in England across a number of NHS diabetes centres, with the results informing NICE’s recommendations.

Health Minister Helen Whately, said: “We are determined to harness the latest innovative technology to improve outcomes for patients, reduce serious complications and ultimately ease pressure on the NHS.”

NICE is recommending that people who are unable to control their condition, even when using an insulin pump or real-time or intermittently scanned continuous glucose monitoring, are offered the technology. In addition, people with type 1 diabetes and who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant are also eligible for the technology.

The main barrier now, according to NICE, is the cost. The draft recommendation calls upon NHS England to agree a cost-effective price for the technology. The current £5,744 annual cost is higher than what NICE considers a cost-effective use of vital NHS resources.

Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology at NICE, said: “At a time when the number of people with diabetes is rising, we have to focus on what matters most to people who use NHS services by balancing recommending the best care with value for money.

“Our committee has reviewed the real-world data generated by the NHS and evidence generated by randomised controlled trials which show there are clear benefits of recommending the technology’s use.”

A consultation on the draft recommendations is now running until 31 January 2023.