Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and the Making Insulin Treatment Safer research team, held a special event with BBC Radio 4’s JP Devlin at Malone House in Belfast on Friday 2 March.
The event highlighted the work of The Making Insulin Treatment Safer (MITS) team, funded by the Research and Development Division of the NI Public Health Agency. MITS is a collaboration between clinicians, researchers and people living with diabetes who have had first-hand experience of being in hospital and receiving insulin treatment whilst there.
MITS has, so far, helped over 100 recently qualified doctors, who play an important part in the insulin treatment of diabetic patients in hospital, learn from their experiences of doing this. MITS has trained over 50 health professionals and people with diabetes to support junior doctors’ learning. Two features are novel. One is that MITS helps doctors behave safely when the right course of action is uncertain. The other is that it uses the expertise of people with diabetes to help doctors learn.
Following the event, JP Devlin said:
"For those of us who have diabetes, and have had it for a long time, we know how to manage our condition and for the most part, manage it in a way that suits our own personal situation. It can therefore be somewhat shocking when, on admission to hospital, our insulin and glucose are removed from our possession. The very things that keep us alive. This is, to say the least, unnerving but actually, it is disempowering. Living with diabetes you are in a long-term relationship with insulin and glucose and all those other diabetes-related things, so to have them taken from you can expose us to a vulnerability that we perhaps aren’t accustomed to.
"I thoroughly enjoyed this event and listening to the varied experiences from both the patient and the healthcare professional perspectives demonstrated how there is a need for improvement and support. Despite all our differences and differing experiences in a hospital setting, diabetes was the connector on the day and I look forward to hearing more about the next steps of the MITS programme and how it aims to help improve diabetes care in hospital settings."
Diabetes UK Northern Ireland National Care Advisor, Florence Findlay White, said:
"What was clear from this event is the need for more communication. Patients in hospital should be given the chance to have their voice heard and respected when it comes to managing their diabetes. Likewise, clinicians at all levels, should have the resources and support to ask for help with a condition they may not be experienced in.
"Ultimately, we want clinicians to feel confident when prescribing insulin and managing diabetes. We want people living with diabetes to be empowered and engaged in their diabetes management if they find themselves admitted to hospital. Hopefully with events such as this, we can help raise awareness and get more people talking about how best to manage diabetes in hospital settings for everyone involved.’