Hospital launches 'life-changing' pump therapy service for diabetes patients

Dr Ee Lin Lim

People with type 1 diabetes in Southampton are now able to access a “life-changing” treatment closer to home following the launch of a new hospital service.

The introduction of insulin pump therapy for adults at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has been hailed a “major development” in diabetes care and is a direct result of feedback from local patients.

This form of the condition, which usually develops before the age of 40 and affects around 400,000 people in the UK, occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin to regulate the level of sugar in the blood, known as blood glucose.

Too much glucose can lead to organ damage and, as there is currently no cure, patients are required to take insulin – traditionally in the form of injections – for life.

Insulin pump deviceBut pump therapy allows patients to control the flow of insulin into the bloodstream round-the-clock via a small battery-operated device connected to a tube with a tiny needle that can be inserted under the skin.

The treatment, which can be used by adults, teenagers and children, ensures patients receive insulin in a more natural manner than is possible through injections as the pump operates on a continuous basis.

However, it is estimated fewer than 5% of people with type 1 diabetes in the UK currently use pumps, compared to between 10 to 20% in some other European countries and 35% in the USA.

“This a major service development and fantastic news for people with type 1 diabetes in Southampton and the surrounding area as they no longer have to travel to other hospitals in order to benefit from insulin pump therapy,” explained Dr Ee-Lin Lim, a consultant diabetologist and insulin pump therapy lead.

“With the number of patients using pump therapy in the UK still lagging way behind other developed countries, the introduction of this service demonstrates our desire to continue improving diabetes care for patients across the south.”

She added: “Insulin pump therapy can lead to better quality of life and improved diabetes control, which reduces the risk of low blood sugar episodes, but it still requires a great deal of commitment from patients to maintain strict monitoring of their glucose levels.

“For those patients who are dedicated to making it work, it can transform their lives and I am delighted we are now able to offer it to people with type 1 diabetes in Southampton and its surrounding area.”

Dr David Paynton, on behalf of NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It is thanks to feedback gained from local people with diabetes, through our diabetes survey last year, that we are now able to provide this valuable service locally.”

A children’s insulin pump therapy service has been running at UHS since 2008.

Posted on Monday 14 April 2014