IMPROVED outcomes for children and young people with type 1 diabetes have been noted at Warrington Hospital.

The paediatric diabetes team has significantly reduced type 1 admission numbers as a result of several innovative initiatives.

This includes being the first in the region to introduce a permanent diabetes youth worker following funding from the Diabetes Health Inequalities Programme.

The trust’s Youth Service Project has proven to be so successful that similar pilot schemes are now being rolled out nationally, with plans to extend the service to other long-term health issues including respiratory conditions and epilepsy.

The work is linked to the NHS Long Term Plan which aims to reduce the variation in the quality of diabetes care services, as patients in deprived areas are more likely to have poor short and long-term health outcomes.

Warrington Guardian: Some of the team behind the successful initiatives

Latest National Paediatric Diabetes Audit (NPDA) data has shown that 30.9 per cent of children and young people in Warrington and Halton with type 1 diabetes complications live in the most deprived areas, compared with the national average of 23.7 per cent.

The trust has also been working more closely with families across Warrington and Halton affecting the debilitating condition.

Type 1 diabetes causes the level of glucose (sugar) in a person’s blood to become too high. This happens when the body cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin, which controls blood glucose. The condition isn’t linked to age or being overweight (risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes).

Chloe Lloyd joined Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WHH) as a youth worker in 2021, with an emphasis placed on supporting children who may have poorly controlled diabetes or additional needs.

Her dedicated efforts have contributed to an increase in the number of children engaging with diabetes activities and family events, support groups, advocacy services and the trust’s Youth Buddy Champion Programme.

In the 12-month period following Chloe’s appointment, the team saw a 50 per cent reduction in diabetes-related admissions and diabetic ketoacidosis – a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can happen when a lack of insulin causes harmful substances called ketones to build up in the blood.

Chloe said: “Developing positive relationships with children and young people affected by diabetes does not happen overnight and is a process that takes time and commitment.

“At WHH we continue to work with patients to support them with their personal, social and emotional wellbeing, and help make positive changes to their quality of life.

“My role as a health-based youth worker supports the young person’s health condition by enhancing the healthcare experience and ensuring their voices are heard.”

WHH also has a transition nurse, Claire Hulmes, which is unique in this region. Claire helps patients to develop their independence and prepare them for early adulthood through a transition programme and community events.

Additionally, the diabetes team has supported eligible patients to use the latest ‘closed loop system’ technology. As the pancreas is unable to make or release insulin whenever the body needs it, the closed-loop system works like the pancreas by releasing insulin when needed.

Dr Satish Hulikere, Clinical Director for Women’s and Children’s Health at the Trust, and North West Children and Young People’s Diabetes Lead for NHS England, is passionate about improving patient outcomes both here and more widely, not only within the NHS but further afield.

He said: “The youth service received extremely positive engagement and feedback from children, young people and families, and has been successful in providing evidence that a holistic approach to healthcare is vital for encouraging them to communicate effectively.

“It bridges the gap between young people and the clinical team, providing them with a non-judgmental approach and support to cope with everyday challenges, to achieve their goals and aspirations and to help them create the best possible pathway to their own future.

“We are now hoping to secure funding for other diabetes projects to allow the team to further its developmental work, focusing particularly on long term conditions and young people with mental health needs.”