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North Cumbria’s children’s diabetes service performs above national average

Paediatric Diabetes Team in North Cumbria

A national paediatric diabetes audit has shown that north Cumbria’s hospitals are performing above the national average in several key areas set by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, on behalf of the NHS.

Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Maintaining good blood glucose control is not easy for adults, let alone children and young people. On a day to day basis there is the challenge of keeping the blood glucose in target, avoiding low glucose and high glucose levels.

High blood glucose levels over time may cause complications associated with diabetes including damage to small and large blood vessels and nerves. However, with good diabetes care and blood glucose control, the risks of complications are markedly reduced, enabling children and young people with diabetes to live a healthy and full life.

The National Paediatric Diabetes Audit was established to compare the care and outcomes of all children and young people with diabetes receiving care from paediatric diabetes units in England and Wales. The results of the audit indicate a higher proportion of children and young people in north Cumbria are achieving better overall control and also meeting national targets for good control than in many parts of England and Wales.

The figures, published last week, cover the health checks and outcomes for children and young people with diabetes who have attended paediatric diabetes units from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. The report aims to address a series of questions relating to paediatric diabetes care, including: What proportion of children and young people with diabetes are reported to be receiving key age-specific processes of diabetes care, as recommended by National Institution for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) , and how many achieve outcomes within specified treatment targets.

The NICE guidelines specify seven key care processes that should be offered to all young people attending children’s diabetes clinics. These include checks of thyroid function, blood pressure, height, weight and body mass index, urine albumin levels, diabetes eye screening, foot examinations and a measure of blood glucose control – Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c – a measure of glucose control). At West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, 93.1% received these measurements while at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle the figure was 99.2%. This compares to an overall average of 86.3% in England and Wales. The north Cumbria teams also performed well offering almost all children and young people with diabetes direct dietitian and psychology support.

Paul Whitehead, consultant paediatrician at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “These are fantastic figures and are a testament to the hard work of the young people with diabetes and their families and the teams across the county providing care, advice and support. All Children’s Diabetes teams across our NHS have worked in collaboration and followed the NHS’s best practice models to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people with diabetes in the country.

“We’ve been introducing new technology to ensure it’s easier for children and young people to measure their blood sugar levels, some even using a mobile phone app, and more modern insulin pumps which give young people the independence they need to manage their condition.

“We’re in the process of gathering together this year’s figures and have ambitious plans to ensure we achieve even better results in next year’s report.”

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