NICE have issued a new quality standard which states that if a child or young person is suspected of having diabetes, their GP should ensure that they are seen by a specialist from a multidisciplinary paediatric diabetes team immediately through admittance to hospital.
Diabetes is a long-term condition which can have a highly serious impact upon a person and therefore prompt diagnosis is essential. Over 26,400 children have type 1 diabetes in the UK today and it is estimated that at least 500 have type 2. If left untreated diabetes can cause tissue damage, resulting in blindness, kidney failure, foot ulcers which can lead to amputation, and also premature heart disease, stroke and death.
Children and young people who are then diagnosed with type 1 diabetes should be offered intensive insulin therapy to help them maintain near normal blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the cells that normally make insulin – the hormone which controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in blood – are destroyed, and the loss of insulin results in high levels of glucose in the blood.
A person with type 2 diabetes has too much glucose in their blood either because their body does not produce enough insulin or their body does not use insulin effectively.
The new quality standard establishes the importance of more prompt referral and also states that diabetes management should include education, support and access to psychological services.