Helping young people with diabetes from slipping through the net

Living with type-1 diabetes as a young adult can be challenging, with some finding it difficult to stay in touch with the clinical teams looking after them.

A new service has been introduced by the Trust to help those with type-1 diabetes who have disengaged from the regular care of a specialist team of doctors and nurses. This successful initiative, which has received national attention and is being funded by the East and North Hertfordshire CCG, seeks to ensure that these young people look after their condition better and help avoid serious complications in their health that could arise otherwise – including emergency admissions and later eyesight and kidney problems.

Dr Peter Winocour, clinical director for diabetes and endocrine services – who also chairs the Trust’s young adult and adolescent committee – explains:

“Following a successful bid to our local CCG, we secured two years of funding to set up the telehealth project. We are working with GP practices to help identify those patients with type-1 diabetes who may need this extra help – which is offered to them in a variety of ways that meets their needs – everything from texting to face-to-face meetings.

“To date, we have supported around 160 people in this way – the majority of who are men in their twenties – who had disengaged from medical care, thus putting their health at serious risk. They are now in contact with our diabetes specialist nurses and young adult support worker, which has allowed us to review people’s medication, and enable retinal screening and blood tests that otherwise may not have happened.”

“We are also beginning to see a reduction in unscheduled emergency admissions from this vulnerable group of patients.

“Working this way, we can help keep this at-risk group of people healthier than might otherwise have been the case, as well as avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. And by carrying out regular reviews with them at six and 12 months, we can also make sure that they continue to do as well as possible.”

The project, which is being funded for two years by the East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, has attracted national attention – including through the 2016 Quality in Care Diabetes awards.