Northern Ireland news

New £2m insulin pump service launched for diabetics to improve quality of life

To mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin to treat diabetes, a new regional insulin pump service is being developed over the next three years
Seanín Graham

A NEW insulin pump service is being developed for people living with diabetes in Northern Ireland to help improve their quality of life.

The regional £2 million initiative has been launched to mark the 100th anniversary of the breakthrough use of insulin to treat the condition - which was previously "untreatable".

There are around 104,000 people in the north living with diabetes, an illness that causes the blood sugar to be higher than normal.

More than 1, 500 adults and children with type 1 diabetes use insulin pumps. The small electronic devices are attached to the body and give it the regular insulin required each day.

However, pumps are accessed and provided differently depending on where you live resulting in problems for orders and replacements.

The new service is being delivered through Northern Ireland Diabetes Network - a group made up of patients, carers and health professionals - to ensure equitable access to pumps and support.

Funded by the Department of Health, the project be developed over the next three years.

Dr Hamish Courtney, clinical director for the Diabetes Network, explained that a clear pathway would enable significant outcomes to be achieved.

"The discovery of insulin meant that diabetes, which was previously an untreatable disease, became 'treatable', enabling people to live with the condition which, prior to 1922, was impossible.

"Now, 100 years on, we continue to strive to improve health outcomes for people living with diabetes, supporting them to not just live with the condition but to do so in a manner that improves their quality of life.

"This new pathway will ensure equality of access across Northern Ireland, help support people to get the best outcomes from their pump therapy and ensure that diabetes teams across the region can share good practice and optimise care for everyone."

Health Minister Robin Swann also welcomed the launch and said the development of insulin in the treatment of diabetes was one of the 20th century's "transformational medical discoveries".

“I am delighted 100 years on to announce significant investment of £2m for a Regional Pumps Service for Northern Ireland," he said.

"While the service is in its infancy, the pathway, ethos and approach has been agreed and I am pleased to welcome this significant development and share some good news in the most challenging of times for a patient group disproportionately affected by the pandemic."

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