Diabetes services proving to be a great success in border counties

A conference held yesterday in the border region (Armagh) highlighted two new diabetes services introduced over the past three years, with funding provided by the European Union’s INTERRERG IVA programme, which are proving to be a great success. The first service, called the CHOICE programme is for children and young people who have diabetes. The second service is specifically for women planning pregnancy who attend pre-pregnancy care clinics in their local areas.
Both programmes aim to help people with diabetes manage their condition more effectively and have been rolled out across Northern Ireland and in the border areas of the Republic of Ireland. The programmes are delivered in local health facilities and to date 2,328 people, including children with diabetes and their parents / carers, have attended CHOICE programmes. With the pre-pregnancy care clinics, women with diabetes who are planning a pregnancy or women who have had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy and are planning another pregnancy, receive support in obtaining healthy blood sugar levels which is beneficial for them and their baby. To date 304 women have attended pre-pregnancy care clinics.
Both diabetes services were introduced as part of a cross border diabetes project funded under the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme secured by Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT), the cross border health services partnership.

Sarah Collier from Clogherhead in Co. Louth whose daughter Eibhlin (aged 11) attended the four-week CHOICE programme in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda last September said: “Eibhlin was first diagnosed with Type I diabetes at aged seven and as a family we were shocked and overwhelmed initially. When the CHOICE programme became available in our area we attended as a family and found it really beneficial to share experiences with other families. It was a great opportunity to refresh and expand our knowledge and gave Eibhlin, and indeed all the family, the confidence to better manage my daughter’s Type I diabetes. I would recommend CHOICE to other families who should be able to access the programme when the time is right for them.”

Commenting on the success of both programmes, Margaret Swords, Group General Manager of the Louth/Meath Hospital Group stated: “We are delighted to be able to utilise this cross border EU funding opportunity to enhance services for children and young people with diabetes in the HSE border counties. These locally-based, high quality diabetes programmes are having a positive impact on the lives of children with diabetes, their families and also for women planning pregnancy.”

Dr Brid Farrell from the Public Health Agency, who chairs the cross border project responsible for the roll-out of the two new diabetes services, was enthusiastic about the monitoring results and service user feedback received so far. She said: “We are delighted to report that both programmes are proving to be a great success with those with diabetes. Children who have attended CHOICE are telling us that they feel more in control of their diabetes and their blood glucose results are showing improvements. Similarly, women attending Pre-pregnancy Care have found the clinics supportive and beneficial and early findings show improvements in blood glucose control, which will benefit both baby and mother.”

Both programmes are being closely monitored and are being independently evaluated to determine their future development in both jurisdictions.