Posted by on Friday 16 March 2012

Top notch transition to a pump : QiC Awards 2012 Guest post

I was invited to write a blog post or two for the Quality in Care (QiC) awards 2012. QiC highlights and recognises outstanding practice and initiatives of healthcare professionals, NHS trusts and other organisations in the care of long-term conditions including diabetes that meet the values of QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention). The last post shares the outstanding experience I've had moving to an insulin pump.

On a slightly brighter note I thought I would share my absolutely excellent experience of moving from MDI (multiple daily injections) to Insulin Pump therapy. The clinic I attend is quite pro-pump and the idea was first mentioned to me some years ago as a possible solution to my concerns over hypoglycaemia. I have never had a problem with severe episodes, but the low-level dips have always been a little too frequent and in more recent years I had become slightly concerned that my warning signs might be weakening.

When an insulin pump was first suggested, many years ago, I was intrigued as to how (if a person was still going to be making similar errors in carb counting, for example) the transformation in control came about. Unfortunately, the consultant who was advocating a pump could not clearly articulate ‘how’ it improved things – just that it did. Sadly, this was not really enough for me. Like almost everyone considering a pump I had an instinctive and fairly profound unease about being attached to something 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and I remained firmly ‘pump averse’ for several years.

It was only after perhaps two years of renewed effort in gaining real control over my diabetes, while at the same time coming into contact with a number of pump users online that I began to understand how and why pump therapy worked. At the same time though, I became aware of the ‘postcode lottery’ that seems to be part and parcel of getting pump therapy funding in the UK. I wondered if I had perhaps missed my chance, or if it would take the three or four years of struggle that others experience.

Having pushed my MDI to the limits, learning an awful lot about how my diabetes works, improving my HbA1c and losing a lot of low-level hypos into the bargain I realised that however good it got it still wasn’t going to be good enough. I decided to investigate the option of a pump at my annual review in September. I had a good two-way conversation with a Registrar who agreed that many of the challenges I continued to face would be better tackled with an insulin pump.

She booked me an appointment with the Pump Specialist Diabetes Nurse the following week. Although I hadn’t officially done a course on carb counting and dose adjustment it was agreed that I knew enough for this not to present a problem. The DSN put my case to the pump clinic Consultant, who agreed funding with the PCT and I started on an insulin pump a few weeks later.

I cannot imagine a better experience. I was treated as an individual throughout and my particular needs and circumstances were taken into account at every stage. Not only that, but the transition was handled excellently – with lots of care and attention, frequent phone calls and follow-up during those tricky early days.

When things go well it is hard to imagine a better healthcare system than the NHS.

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