From 1 June 2009, HbA1c (long term blood glucose levels) in all people with diabetes will be measured in millimoles per mol as well as by percentage, the Department of Health said today.
The UK is responding to the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) call for all countries to adopt the same measurement to make it easier to compare HbA1c results between laboratories throughout the UK and worldwide.
Both the old and the new measurements will be given for the first two years of the change, until 31 May 2011 when people with diabetes will receive their HbA1c measurement only in millimoles per mol.
Dr. Rowan Hillson MBE, National Clinical Director for Diabetes, said, "It is really important that people with diabetes keep their blood glucose levels under good control. Controlling the glucose in a way that is safe and appropriate for each person reduces the risk of diabetic tissue damage.
"People with diabetes need HbA1c blood tests to check their glucose is under good control. This necessary change in the way that HbA1c is reported is being introduced in a way that allows plenty of time for us all to get used to it."
Simon O'Neill Director of Care and Policy at Diabetes UK said: "Diabetes UK welcomes this change to the way HbA1c results are reported and we believe that this will have the additional benefit of making comparing results from international laboratories and research trials easier, as the new system will be adopted worldwide.
"The change is very much welcomed as will reduce anxieties and make recordings common to all sufferers and recognised by all involved in the care of diabetics." - V Henry, London
"I think there is a lot of confusion as it is ... with some diabetes patients mistaking fbs and the hba1c readings. It would be nice to be able to quantify both readings and make it easier to understand for the layman; after all they are the sufferers." - Name and address supplied