“BEING a teenager is a challenging time,” says Worcestershire NHS clinical psychologist Dr Catherine Binney. “If you put diabetes into the mix, it is even more challenging.”

She added that there are currently about 100 16 to 18-year-olds in the county who have diabetes and this condition has a massive impact on people’s lives.

Catherine, who is part of the Worcestershire Paediatric Diabetes Team, and Dr Natalie Craddock, clinical psychologist in the Wyre Forest Paediatric Diabetes Team, were launching the latest stage of a campaign to help young diabetes patients move from children’s health services to adult services.

They explained that many youngsters in Worcestershire with diabetes will have known their consultant, specialist nurse, dietitian and other NHS staff most of their lives. In this area they will attend specialist clinics at either Worcestershire Royal Hospital, The Alexander Hospital Redditch or Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre.

But as they progress through their teenage years and into adulthood, they move onto the adult services which operate differently.

“The paediatric services tend to be more child centred and family orientated. When you go over to adult services it is about managing your own health care,” said Catherine.

In Worcestershire, the NHS diabetes services operate a transition period so that patients are not suddenly transferred from the care they are used to into another system once they reach a certain age.

“We start introducing the transition idea at the age of 13. It is a gradual process. The specialist nurse may have known children for a large part of their lives and this period is building up to going over to a whole new team.”

One of the main differences between paediatric and adult services is that the patient has to take responsibility for managing their condition and treatment such as making appointments for blood tests, injecting insulin in the case of type 1 diabetes and attending hospital appointments with specialist doctors, nurses and dietitians. Those with type 2 diabetes generally receive community-based health support.

Catherine pointed out the prospect of moving over to adult services can be worrying and daunting after being looked after by the paediatric team. “Sometimes the transition is more daunting for parents who have to allow the young person to take control.”

She stressed the process of moving from one service to the other does not happen at a set age but depends upon when the time is right for each individual.

But if the transfer is not done smoothly and well, tailored to each individual’s needs, patients can “get lost” in the system and potentially drop out of the services, meaning they do not get the support they need. If they don’t get the help they need to treat their diabetes, it can have a major impact on their lives.

The transition aims to help young people to develop their skills in communication and decision making, improving their sense of control and independence so they can make the best informed choices about their own health.

Around 30 young people in Worcestershire go through the transition from paediatric to adult diabetes services each year, with the patient choosing when they move any time between their 16th and 18th birthdays.

Funded by the Bournville Charitable Trust, a video has been produced involving real patients which aims to allay some of the fears and answer some of the questions about moving from paediatric to adults diabetes services in Worcestershire. It is thought to be just the second initiative of its kind in the country.

The film shows a young local diabetes patients discussing some of the issues which concern them about the management of their condition and them meeting two other patients, who have gone through the process themselves.

The filming was done at Worcester Countryside Centre and Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre. One of the patients who has moved onto adult services is 27-year-old University of Worcester student Chris Bright. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged eight but took the decision that he would not let the condition rule his life but made it fit around his lifestyle.

Chris, who is doing a masters degree sport and is a semi-professional footballer, was featured in the Worcester News last month for his work in lifting the barriers to other diabetes patients wanting to participate in sport. He founded the Diabetes Football Community last year, which aims to support and inspire people with diabetes to play football. It has received worldwide interest.

Referring to his experience of moving from paediatric to adult diabetes services, Chris said: “It’s your opportunity to take control of your care. When I first moved in to the adult service it was a little bit of a worrying time, but there’s a lot of support out there so they really help you transition. You get the opportunity to ask questions so the move really isn’t as difficult or as big as you might think.”

Along with the video, which will now be shared on social media and put on the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust’s website, there are new leaflets being produced to explain the changes and help these patients to feel more confident to manage their condition more independently.

“We do not want them to go to the adult services without them knowing all the information,” said Catherine.

To find out more about Worcestershire’s paediatric diabetes services visit www.worcsacute.nhs.uk/diabetes-childrens-services

• There are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2

• Type 1 is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is also sometimes known as juvenile diabetes or early-onset diabetes because it often develops before the age of 40 – usually during teenage years.

• In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas (a small gland behind the stomach) does not produce insulin – a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. If the amount of glucose in the blood is too high, it can seriously damage the body’s organs.

• In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not react to it. This is known as insulin resistance.

• If type 2 diabetes is not treated it can lead to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, sight damage and foot ulcers.