Since writing this post I’ve been told the local specialist team can either write a prescription themselves or help negotiate with the GP to get extra supplies…problem solved!
I’m planning on doing a little bit of travelling and started to get my diabetes supplies organised. However, last week I was surprised to learn that the GP does not give out more than 3 months of supplies which made me temporarily reconsider my plans. When I used to live in Ireland and went travelling, I was told by the nurse “figure out how much you need and take double” which I assumed would be the same in the UK. Also, while enviously following @Type1Traveller on twitter, I just assumed he had enough insulin to continue his amazing travels.
But it turns out I was wrong. The GP receptionist informed me they will not write a prescription for more than 3 months, and they are strict on this. I then looked on the @Type1Traveller blog and found he was told the same thing (as well as providing some useful information if you’re thinking about travelling): http://www.type1traveller.org/the-problem-of-supplies/. The diabetes team will help you if you become stuck but you are expected to find your own supplies after three months.
Now that I am over this initial surprise, I can understand it. Diabetes supplies cost a lot of money and the NHS has limited resources. The NHS has an obligation to provide care for anyone in the UK and shouldn’t have to also provide care for people in other countries.
However, I’d be curious to know other people’s experiences of the three-month rule. Has it put you off travelling? Has it made you change your plans? Or have you found a way around it? Does not having enough insulin while travelling make you feel nervous or anxious?
I think of myself as easy going. I don’t mind not knowing where I’m going to sleep, or how I’m going to get somewhere, people are generally nice and things work out because people help each other. However, I always make sure I have my insulin and a bit of cash. Leaving the UK without enough insulin makes me feel a little nervous.
And now I’m wondering can the NHS make an exception for people with type 1 diabetes who can demonstrate a desire to travel? For example, I know you can get 12 months supplies of the contraceptive pill (if I’m missing something I apologise in advance, just a crude example I was made aware off) so should we be able to request a one year supply of insulin?
I know there are far more pressing matters in diabetes care but it seems to me to be a small problem with a relatively straightforward solution – allow GPs to prescribe more than 3 months’ supply for people with type 1 diabetes who are travelling.
I’ve never heard anyone regret travelling, only those regretting not getting to travel. And I don’t think travelling should be any harder than it has to be for people with diabetes.