Diabetes Ireland warmly welcomed the announcement of funding for diabetes service development following the budget.
The Department of Health confirmed that it plans to roll out new strategies for a range of services including diabetes and will also be developing several initiatives aimed at improving diabetes care.
While we await further details of what these will be, it is our understanding that one of these initiatives will see initial funding made available to enable the National Office of Clinical Audit (NOCA) pilot the development and implementation of a National Paediatric Diabetes Audit, as outlined in their Feasibility Study earlier this year.
With a lack of knowledge around the clinical effectiveness of current paediatric diabetes services, an audit will highlight areas of good practice, identify service and staffing deficits, and promote improvement in quality-of-care delivery which will all help to improve diabetes outcomes for children and adolescents living with Type 1 diabetes nationwide. The Feasibility Study highlighted that this is phase 1 of the project with further phases eventually rolling the clinical audit out to adult Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes services.
Dr Kate Gajewska, Diabetes Ireland Research and Advocacy Manager said “this was a high priority need in our Pre-budget submission and while we await further details, we are delighted to see this initial funding made available and keen to see NOCA begin work on phase 1 in the coming months. Data collected by audits and registers are essential to better plan diabetes health services and improve diabetes care, therefore, we are glad to see this gap and need recognised. We believe this can only be the beginning of a wider rollout of registries and audits in the coming years”.
It was also announced that funding to pilot a new national eye screening pathway for women living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes during pregnancy under the Diabetic RetinaScreen programme would also be launched in 2023 under the Women’s Health Fund. Women with diabetes who are pregnant are at higher risk of sight loss and this new pathway will improve access to regular eye care during pregnancy.
While we await confirmation of other planned initiatives, we are hoping one of those will see women who develop gestational diabetes each year receive insulin, glucose-lowering tablets, and blood glucose strips free of charge for the duration of pregnancy based on clinical need. The costs of these medications are unaffordable for some women, and this impedes the delivery of best practice care and thus increased the risk of potentially serious health consequences for both mother and child. This would be a very sensible and positive decision for women who develop gestational diabetes.
We also welcome the additional funding for the continuing rollout of the Enhanced Community Care programme which has Type 2 diabetes as one of its primary pillars of care. Work on the setting up of this programme is ongoing with some HSE areas further ahead than others mainly due to difficulties in recruiting specialist diabetes staff.
On behalf of the Cross Parliamentary Group on Diabetes, Chairperson Cormac Devlin TD said: “It is extremely positive to see diabetes being prioritised by the Minister for Health in this budget. It has been clear to us for some time that further investment is required to ensure the health service has the ability to provide optimal care to people living with diabetes. Following the recent announcement, we look forward to working alongside Diabetes Ireland and engaging with the Minister and his department in the development of diabetes services”.
In acknowledging the support of the diabetes community, Dr Gajewska added “On behalf of Diabetes Ireland, we would like to thank members of the diabetes community who were involved in our pre-budget campaign, diabetes advocates, people living with diabetes and healthcare professionals and all those who contacted their local politicians as part of our pre-budget campaign. All the e-mails, letters, and questions to TDs from you made politicians exposed to and aware of our needs. I would also like to thank all the members of our Cross Parliamentary Group on Diabetes who have worked with us over the past 18/24 months to highlight the needs of the diabetes community both in the short term and longer term and will continue to do so as there is still much to be done”.