Sheffield Hospitals praised for helping young people better control their diabetes

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Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has won a national award for helping more young people with diabetes control vital blood sugar levels – which if left uncontrolled can lead to irreversible damage and emergency hospital admissions.

It is the second time in successive years that the Trust’s diabetes team have scooped a top prize from the Quality in Care Diabetes Awards.

The team picked up the top prize in the Patient Care Pathway for Children, Young People and Emerging Adults category after seeing a huge improvement in the number of young people with diabetes aged 16 to 20 able to meet national targets to control blood sugar levels, which can be key in preventing diabetes-related complications later on in life, including blindness, dialysis and amputation.

Getting young people to get to grips with complex lifelong diabetes management skills such as carbohydrate counting, drinking alcohol in moderation and insulin therapy can often be challenging.

However, through the development of an age-appropriate skills-based educational course called Working with Insulin Carbohydrates, Ketones and Exercise in Diabetes (WICKED) young people visiting the Northern General Hospital’s diabetes clinic have been able to learn key skills in informal, tailored, interactive sessions where they learn key concepts with peers and educationalists over lunch or by taking part in games such as bowling.

They are also able to get vital health checks at the same time in clinic, including blood and urine tests, eye tests and foot checks, and support from psychologists to help them better cope with this complex condition at a challenging time of their lives.

iabetes occurs as a result of an autoimmune response, which causes the immune system to attack and destroy the cells that produce insulin as the pancreas is no longer able to do this itself. Once diagnosed, people with Type 1 diabetes have to take injections to control glucose in their blood

Dr Jackie Elliott, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Diabetes and Honorary Consultant for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Adolescence is recognised as the most difficult time for people with type 1 diabetes, it is associated with the poorest glucose control, and if uncontrolled causes hospital admissions, and long term irreversible damage.

“We are very proud to have won this prestigious award. In 2014 very few of our young diabetes patients aged 16 to 20 were controlling their blood glucose levels to the standards recommended by NICE, but now our results are better than the national average. Winning this award recognises the huge team effort that required staff to rethink systems and processes to make a difference to the quality of young people’s lives.”

The judges praised the team’s innovation, highlighting that “Sheffield Teaching Hospitals empathy really came through” and that “the WICKED course was excellent and very innovative, especially considering the difficulty that often comes with working with young people.”

The WICKED programme has since been adopted by other NHS Trusts, including Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals was one of 15 organisations across the country to pick up a Quality in Care Diabetes 2017 Award, which highlights good ideas and shares them across the NHS.