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22 Feb 2021

Hopeful DPC webinar to give ‘light at end of COVID tunnel’

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has caused chaos everywhere. Parents are being forced to home school, offices have shut down and drinking in pubs is a distant memory.

But for healthcare professionals the struggle to keep services ticking over, while dealing with another spike in hospitals is impacting everyone, even those who are nowhere near the frontline.

“I’m now doing two extra diabetes clinics a week seeing more than 50 extra patients, so yes COVID has definitely had an impact,” says Beth Kelly, a Type 1 Liaison Diabetes Specialist Nurse in Southampton.

The need for diabetes services has suddenly increased because more and more people with COVID-19 are being treated with dexamethasone, a steroid drug that can cause hyperglycaemia, even in those who do not have diabetes.

“We’re quite used to seeing steroid treatment impacting blood sugar levels, but when it was proven that dexamethasone could help treat coronavirus, the whole diabetes community knew large groups of people would be leaving hospital on insulin.

“And because of this, there’s a massive amount of work involved once the person is home as we can’t just take the insulin away. We have to keep monitoring these people for three months and then repeat their HbA1c levels. We have to gradually reduce their steroid and insulin use in a safe and controlled way,” Beth explains.

She will be discussing the challenges her team have come up against during the pandemic at DPC’s second CPD-accredited Winter Forum session.

Entitled ‘COVID & Diabetes Services – Vaccinations’ the online series takes place every Wednesday between 7pm and 8pm.

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Beth will be joined on February 24 by Dr David Strain, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant, Richard Grimes, Liaison Type 1 Diabetes Specialist Nurse and Su Down, Nurse Consultant for Diabetes.

Professor Partha Kar OBE, Consultant Endocrinologist and Clinical Lead GIRFT Diabetes, will also be part of the panel.

As NHS England’s National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes, he will be providing his take on national guidelines and prioritisation to the vaccination programme.

“Delivery of the COVID vaccine quite rightly has become the top priority,” he says.

“With primary care forming the basis of any COVID vaccination programme, other areas have also been incredibly busy with the COVID-19 response.”

“We’ve seen community teams helping out in hospitals, diabetes teams being pulled in to assist on the wards and so on and so on."

“Each and every NHS staff member is tired and there are worries about the future, understandably, but I’ve also seen an overwhelmingly strong and positive attitude from people."

“I want to address what we’ve been doing from a national perspective and how we’ve put things into context amid vaccine prioritisations.”

Partha is hopeful that his presence during the DPC Webinar series will encourage people who have questions to come forward.

“DPC is providing healthcare professionals with the opportunity to attend this online event and ask questions, find out about priorities. It also gives me the chance to find out what the issues are out there and what needs tackling immediately and what might be hindering people when they are trying to deliver the best possible diabetes care they can.

“But I also want to assure people that there is indeed a light at the end of this COVID tunnel.”

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