Top marks for South Tyneside diabetes medical team

Paediatric diabetes nurses Joanne Henderson, left, and Val Campbell, seated right, with Consultant Paediatrician Dr Gabriel Okugbeni and Paediatric Speciality Doctor Faye McCorry
Paediatric diabetes nurses Joanne Henderson, left, and Val Campbell, seated right, with Consultant Paediatrician Dr Gabriel Okugbeni and Paediatric Speciality Doctor Faye McCorry

The children and young people’s diabetes service at South Tyneside District Hospital has been hailed as an example of best practice for improvement in control of the condition.

The children’s diabetes team - who care for 60 children up to the age of 17 with Type 1 diabetes - introduced families to technology two years ago which they can use to upload data at home that can be remotely monitored by the team at the hospital.

Now South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust is one of the top in the North East and Cumbria, and in the top 10% nationally, based on the established blood test that shows how well the condition is being controlled.

Previously, the children were reviewed in clinic at the hospital every two to three months.

Now the families - sometimes even the young people themselves – are able to send readings, such as blood glucose level, amount of carbohydrates eaten and amount of insulin administered, as often as they like.

Paediatric diabetes nurses Val Campbell and Joanne Henderson check the readings and, with Consultant Paediatrician with a special interest in diabetes Dr Gabriel Okugbeni, make suggestions for self-management if they feel changes are necessary, which can prevent the need for a visit to hospital.

They are also able to nip potentially serious problems in the bud.

Dr Okugbeni said: “We are delighted with the results we have been able to achieve through the home uploading of data, which gives reassurance to parents and carers who can feel overwhelmed and anxious.

“Our success is due to working with the families, more than 90% of whom have embraced the new technology, plus the hard work of the team and investment of our specialist nurses’ time in the project.”

Melanie Johnson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s director of nursing and patient experience, said: “Our children’s diabetes team have invested a lot of time and effort in this project and their commitment has paid dividends, which is fantastic news for our young patients and their families and carers.

“It has given them reassurance and also, very importantly, the confidence to make changes themselves in between clinics, which puts them more in control.”

Other medical teams in the North East have shown an interest in replicating some of the approaches in SDouth Tyneside to try to improve treatment across our region.