NDSS changes a mixed bag

Nearly two weeks into the transition, some patients have reportedly been unable to access supplies

From 1 July, the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) implemented changes to its supply services.

The changes mean diabetes patients need to purchase all NDSS products, including insulin pump consumables, through NDSS Access Points, usually their local community pharmacy.

Some patients have reported issues while others have had no trouble accessing their usual supplies:

Some issues are to be expected for the national rollout, says pharmacist John Bell who is on the board of Diabetes NSW.

“In the first few months there will inevitably be some difficulties, particularly in rural areas,” says Bell.

“It depends on the area in which people live and the supplies people need. It’s likely there wouldn’t be interruptions to the supply of needles, for example, but insulin pump consumables may cause difficulty as they were not sold in pharmacies before the changes came through,” he says.

Bell says his pharmacy has been able to supply everything that presenting customers have needed.

“As long as the customer gives the pharmacist enough notice before running out, they should be fine,” he says.

The NDSS will continue to be delivered by Diabetes Australia and state and territory diabetes organisations.

Diabetes NSW spokesperson Trish Egan says that while there have been some issues during the rollout period, this is expected and the issues should smooth out over time.

Meanwhile, to help during the transition period Diabetes Australia is allowing customers to place orders for insulin pump consumables until early September, by calling their local state and territory NDSS Agent on 1300 136 588.

There have also been changes in access to subsidised test strips for people with type 2 diabetes who do not use insulin.

From 1 July, all people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin are able to purchase an initial six months’ supply of subsidised blood glucose testing strips, equivalent to 900 strips.

However, six months from the date of first purchase after 1 July restrictions will come into effect.

MJA Insight has reported that this decision to remove access to subsidised test strips may trigger anxiety and worry in patients.

Giuliana Murfet, a diabetes nurse practitioner at North West Regional Hospital in Tasmania, told MJA InSight that in light of these changes, “some people will feel unsettled and anxious”.

“They feel confident seeing their numbers; it tells them that they’re on the right track and for some patients that’s important.”

To the general public and policy makers, these changes might also send a message that Type 2 diabetes is not as important as Type 1 diabetes, she says.

See our Forum on the NDSS expansion to get involved in the conversation.

Image by Brian J. Matis

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