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Diabetes and young people in the spotlight in Parliament

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Diabetes and young people was discussed at length in parliament today (Wednesday 29 April) as part of a 90 minute long Westminster Hall debate. 

The debate was called by Knowsley MP George Howarth and MPs from all sides - including Mark Field MP, Alan Campbell MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Caroline Nokes MP, Adrian Sanders MP (Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes) and Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed MP - argued that care for children and young people with the condition needs to improve. 

There was broad agreement from MPs that:

  • The Best Practice Tariff for children’s diabetes services introduced in 2012 as an incentive to provide good care should be extended to include everyone up to the age of 25. Too many young adults are not getting a smooth transition to adult services at the moment and are disengaging from the health system. 
  • Young people with Type 1 diabetes and their families should have better access to psychological care and support. This should be a key component of their diabetes care as there is higher rate of depression in people with diabetes. Young women with Type 1 are more likely to develop an eating disorder, in particular diabulimia.
  • The Government needs to do more to increase funding into Type 1 diabetes research as the UK lags behind other western countries in its investment of research into Type 1 diabetes.

There was also concern about plans to scrap the National Paediatric Diabetes Peer Review Programme that helps shared best practice in paediatric diabetes care.  

A number of MPs were also worried that young people with diabetes were having their Disability Living Allowance blocked due to Department for Work and Pensions officials having a limited understanding of the needs of young people with diabetes.

Strong message

Robin Hewings, Head of Policy for Diabetes UK, said: “It was so great to hear so many MPs speaking passionately about diabetes and the importance of better support to young people who have the condition. As a number of MPs have made clear today, care for young people with diabetes really needs to improve. At the moment over 80 per cent of children are not meeting their target blood glucose level and one in four children with Type 1 are diagnosed so late that they end up becoming seriously ill . I really hope that today’s debate sends a strong message to the Government that the current approach needs to be improved if young people with diabetes are to get the start in life that they deserve.”

Best practice

George Howarth MP, who secured the debate, concluded: “The debate today is an opportunity to praise the steps that are being taken to improve paediatric diabetes care and to pinpoint where we need to do more. With that in mind, I reiterate my support and optimism for the best practice tariff. Given that the tariff was only introduced recently, I hope that the Minister agrees that it would be sensible to return to the subject of Type 1 diabetes in young people once we have had a chance to see how well that is working.

“In the immediate future, however, the Government can and must do more. I would welcome the Minister commenting on extending the best practice tariff to 25, ensuring that children and young people with Type 1 diabetes get the psychological support that they need and ensuring that educational standards for health care professionals and for children and young people with diabetes and their families are nationally standardised and accredited. I will be grateful to learn of any steps that the Minister can take to increase our contribution to Type 1 research.

Type 1 diabetes needs a champion

“I have one final point to make. I feel strongly that the issue of Type 1 diabetes needs a champion within the Government. I hope that the Minister will rise to the challenge and provide the political leadership that is so needed if we are to tackle this important matter.

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