A SPECIALIST children’s diabetes team is one of the first in the UK to run clinics in schools.
Hillingdon Hospital began to offer the outreach service to youngsters with Type 1 diabetes following poor attendance rates for hospital appointments.
There was also a desire to meet youngsters on their own ground with minimal disruption to their schooling.
The team, comprising consultants, specialist nurses, dieticians and a psychologist, has seen non-attendance fall from 30% to just 2% since moving into the three participating schools.
Jai Ganapathi, a paediatric consultant and diabetes specialist at Hillingdon Hospital, said: “There is a drive for more services to be patient-friendly and we find going into schools less disruptive for pupils and their parents.
“Coming to hospital has a stigma of ill-health, and absence from school raises questions from classmates about where you have been. We couldn’t do this without the co-operation of the schools, who have been great.”
Dr Ganapathi said the physical demands of Type 1 diabetes, which involves daily self-administered injections of insulin, are pronounced in young people but the emotional burden and fitting it into their lifestyle is often harder to cope with.
Phoebe Kurian , paediatric diabetes specialist nurse, added: “The feedback has been good because we are fitting in around people’s lives, rather than the other way around.
“It’s important for people to realise that diabetes is manageable and you can work with your team to help fit it into your lifestyle.”
The school service currently looks after 25 pupils aged 11-16 at Ruislip High and Harlington schools and Barnhill Community College.
At present, more than 15,000 people live diabetes in Hillingdon, which is expected to rise to more than 18,000 by 2020.