New care helps Norfolk diabetics

MARK NICHOLLS Specialist monitoring equipment that will dramatically improve treatment for people with diabetes in Norfolk is now being offered through the county's main hospital.

MARK NICHOLLS

Specialist monitoring equipment that will dramatically improve treatment for people with diabetes in Norfolk is now being offered through the county's main hospital.

The continuous blood/glucose monitoring system has been handed over to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital by a diabetes support group and will help doctors offer better treatment to patients.

The portable monitoring equipment has the capability to take readings every three minutes over several days, enabling doctors to plot a highly-accurate graph of a patient's condition and tailor treatment accordingly.

The device was presented to the Elsie Bertram Diabetes Centre at the N&N yesterday by members of the North Norfolk group of Diabetes UK.

Consultant diabetologist Dr Rosemary Temple said: “Normally people are measuring four times a day but this equipment gives us intensive frequent glucose tests and shows us what really is going on with a patient throughout the day and the night.

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“This means we can decide which insulin would be best for a particular situation. Such a programme is particularly useful for people who are pregnant where blood sugar control is important, people with other hormone conditions and those who we are really struggling to find out what is going on. This will help improve blood sugar control and help better tailor treatment to a patient.”

The N&N has trialled the equipment with pregnant patients and they will be the first to benefit from the donated equipment, though it will be available to other diabetes patients.

Dr Temple said: “This is a huge step forward in the way we treat patients, it is the latest advance in technology and our understanding of how to treat Type I diabetes. We are very pleased to have this equipment.”

Diabetes UK branch chairman John Hutchinson and committee member Frank Bocking handed over the two devices worth £5,000 after money for the equipment was raised by various events, carnivals and donations.

Mr Hutchinson said: “When local people give us money, it is often accompanied by a request that we try to spend the money locally, which in this case we have been able to do. We do also send money nationally for ongoing research.”

The monitor sits on a patient's waistband with two electrodes embedded in the stomach muscle, which records the blood glucose levels every few minutes and transmits to a computer nearby. It stores the data and makes it available for consultants to assess, showing where there are high levels and low levels. The system also has an inbuilt alarm that sounds if a dangerous level is reached.

The N&N is also to be a centre carrying out new clinical research into diabetes through the new East England Local Research Network.

With diabetes now affecting about 5pc of the adult population, strategies to prevent its development, and improve the outcomes for people with diabetes, are required. The UK Clinical Research Network and the Department of Health have appointed eight new Local Research Networks nationally to support the delivery and conduct of clinical diabetes research.

Dr Mike Sampson, consultant diabetologist at the Norfolk and Norwich, said: "Each network is tasked with increasing patient and public involvement in diabetes research. Up to £400,000 will be provided per annum to each local research network annually to employ dedicated research nurses and similar staff who will support clinical teams in primary and secondary care to support diabetes clinical studies.”

SIDEBAR:

Mother-of-four Rachael Turner was one of the first people in Norfolk to benefit from a continuous blood/glucose level monitoring system when the hospital trialled the device.

As a Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetic, she used the equipment to monitor her levels prior to pregnancy and during pregnancy.

She explained: “When you are pregnant blood sugar levels are difficult to control. The continuous monitoring gave reassurance that the levels were ok but also helped identify a particular problem at times of the day and whether insulin levels needed to be adjusted.

“I am really pleased the clinic has got the latest model of this equipment, I am sure it will be a real benefit to many people.

“It was really beneficial for me in helping control my blood sugar during the pregnancy.”

Mrs Turner, from Freethorpe near Acle, works in the paediatric department at the N&N with diabetic children and was diagnosed 31 years ago when she was six.