Labour has announced a new partnership with Virgin Media O2, to ensure every child with type 1 diabetes can benefit from the latest technology. Labour also said it will digitise the red book given to parents to record children’s medical records, as part of a series of changes to the NHS app.  

The NHS provides new glucose monitors for people with type 1 diabetes, which enable parents to monitor children’s glucose levels throughout the day and night. With 32,000 children in the UK living with the condition, ensuring their glucose levels don’t drop below a safe level is vital as it prevents children from passing out or having a fit.

New glucose monitors allow parents to check their child’s levels while at school through smartphone technology. However, hundreds of families of children with type 1 diabetes aren’t able to afford smartphones and so can’t benefit from the breakthrough medical technology. 

Within five years, patients with type 1 diabetes will be offered an ‘artificial pancreas’ which automatically provides them with insulin when the patient’s blood sugar levels are high. However, patients who do not have a smartphone will not benefit from the new innovation, which uses smartphone technology to track their blood sugar levels. 

In a brand-new initiative, Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer said an incoming Labour government will partner with Virgin Media O2 and the Supporting Children with Diabetes charity so that every family has the smartphones they need to benefit from the latest technology. 

Under the new proposals, hundreds of children from deprived backgrounds will be given access to the life-changing new glucose monitors via donated smartphones provided by Virgin Media O2 free of charge. The NHS will identify children with type 1 diabetes who are not using modern glucose monitors and direct them to the charity so they can provide them with a smartphone. 

Announcing the partnership in an interview with ITV News, Starmer 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. This new technological breakthrough should be available to all children who need it, not to those who can afford a device.  

“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.” 

Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “There is a revolution in medical technology taking place before our eyes. Under the Tories, the NHS is failing to secure the advantages of AI and new treatments for its patients, but private healthcare 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 widen, and the NHS will become the poor man’s service. That is the future we must avoid. 

Nicola Green, corporate affairs director of Virgin Media O2, said: “As someone with Type 1 Diabetes, I have firsthand experience of how smartphone technology can help manage the condition. The recycled devices that Virgin Media O2 is donating to Supporting Children with Diabetes will reduce the hassle and stress for those families affected by Diabetes, making it faster and easy to monitor blood glucose levels.”

Digitised red book to move to NHS App 

The reforms of the red book will see children’s health records kept on parents’ NHS App. Parents and the NHS will be able to easily see if children are behind on jabs or check ups, with automatic notifications to notify parents and the option to book an appointment through the app.  

The red book has been provided to new parents by the NHS for the past thirty years. MMR vaccination rates for children have fallen for each of the past 7 years. The UK lost its measles-free status in 2019. There have been hundreds of cases and outbreaks across the country in the past year.  

Labour’s plans will allow the NHS to identify which children are unvaccinated, send information to parents about the importance and safety of the MMR vaccine, and invite them to appointments to protect their children.