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Refresh for Diabetes Network

8th October 2020

The Diabetes Network for Northern Ireland (NI) has set out a new roadmap to improve the health and well-being of those living with diabetes across the region.
There are almost 100,000 people in Northern Ireland living with diabetes.

Over 3,000 people are currently diagnosed annually due to our ageing and growing population and this is expected to rise.

It is also estimated that around 12,000 people are living with Type 2 diabetes and have not yet been diagnosed.

The Network, established to deliver the recommendations of the NI Diabetes Strategic Framework (November 2016) is led by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) in partnership with the Public Health Agency and Diabetes UK NI. It brings together people living with diabetes, their carers, health and social care professionals and clinicians to work in partnership on the design and delivery of better diabetes services.

Delighted to be leading on the refreshed work programme for the Network, Dr Hamish Courtney, Consultant Diabetologist at the Belfast HSC Trust and Clinical Lead for the Network said:

“Since its inception in 2016, the Network has achieved a lot, but there is much more to do. Three years on from the publication of the Diabetes Strategic Framework it was always our attention to reassess our efforts. With the rise in 3000 new cases of diabetes diagnosed here each year it is imperative that we pause and consider what we have achieved and identify where next to focus our efforts’.

“The key challenges we face in diabetes care, especially during the current pandemic to care for those living with diabetes, are very real. Over recent months we have undertaken a review of the Network and are now progressing our efforts to improve patient outcomes aligning primary, secondary and community care, developing a regional pumps service for adults and children having successfully secured £1.6m recurrent investment for this service. and responding to Covid pressures, and
“We have recently welcomed 28 people living with diabetes and their carers as members of the Network who will join our working groups to share their lived experience to help us improve and enhance our services and support for everyone. Having people living with diabetes firmly at the centre of the Network to support this effective partnership has worked so well and is invaluable moving into a co-produced future,” he said.

Tina McCrossan, National Director, Diabetes UK Northern Ireland said: “As an integral part of the Diabetes Network we welcome the refreshed work programme and look forward to working closely with our statutory colleagues and people living with diabetes to ensure better outcomes.

“This is a critical time for people living with diabetes as they face particular challenges in relation to access to services as well as treatment during the ongoing pandemic. We are particularly encouraged that the refreshed work programme includes enhanced mechanisms to help people living with diabetes engage with the Network and have a direct role in improving services. Ultimately, we hope this new way of working will pave the way for better health outcomes for those living with diabetes.”

Type 1 diabetic, Dawn Adam from Dromore commented: ‘As a newly appointment member of the Network this opportunity allows me to share a user perspective on the services available to people living with diabetes to help inform the development of future care pathways. My long term goal is to see diabetes become a more manageable condition with a reduction in harms to those living with this condition through improved education and access to services and technologies.”

John Clarke from Mullavilly, Armagh added: “I was very pleased to receive an invite to join the Diabetes Network as a new service user representative. As a Type 2 diabetic, the appointment has motivated and empowered me to work with the Network to bring about improvements in diabetic care. Even during this covid pandemic, I believe it is important to work in partnership with others across the Network. By working together to improve diabetic care, we will be changing people’s lives and that would be an amazing achievement.”

Dr Courtney concluded; “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact us all and as we approach the winter months, I would like to encourage everyone living with diabetes to avail of the flu vaccination when you received an invitation from your GP. I wish everyone well over the coming months as we continue to fight the pandemic together and stay safe,” he said.