Tens of thousands of people with type I diabetes across the country are to benefit from “life-changing” glucose monitors on the NHS, NHS England has announced on World Diabetes Day.

From April next year, patients will be able to receive the Freestyle Libre device on prescription from their local GP or diabetes team, in a bid to end the current variation in access.

“It is estimated that around 3%-5% of patients with type I diabetes in England have access to Freestyle Libre but if clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) were following the guidance correctly, this figure could eventually rise to at least 20%-25%.

The wearable sensor removes the need for prick blood tests, which can be inconvenient and sometimes painful, by relaying glucose levels to a smart phone or e-reader.

NHS England said it will ensure the device, which is the size of a £2 coin and sits on the arm, is available on prescription for all patients who qualify for it in line with NHS clinical guidelines.

“Once in place, these measures should mean an end to the variation in availability and the postcode lottery that have dogged access to this life-changing technology,” said chief executive Simon Stevens.

“This decision demonstrates that the NHS is seizing the opportunities presented by new technology, but also that it has listened to the voices of many thousands of people living with and affected by diabetes across the UK.”

There are now over three million people in England with a diagnosis of diabetes and a further 940,000 living with the condition that are yet to be diagnosed. Of those with a diagnosis of diabetes, around 300,000 are estimated to have type 1 disease.

Meanwhile, a survey of people living in the UK with type I and type II diabetes has revealed that over three quarters (76%) reported suffering stress, anxiety attacks or bouts of deep depression.

Another 30% said they had battled an eating condition, while 19% admitted self-harming, with nearly-half (46%) claiming their problems started after their diagnosis.

The report commissioned by leading Continuous Glucose Monitoring firm Dexcom, also found that three in five (60%) living with diabetes said they worried more about the risk of developing further health complications arising from diabetes, such as blindness and limb amputations.