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Social media keeps young diabetics engaged, NHS England says

Social media, texts and Skype can keep young people with diabetes engaged in their treatments, NHS England has stated in new guidance.

The new service specification focuses on improving the service for young people who are transferring from child to adult services or from one service to another geographically.

Dr Jackie Cornish, NHS England's national clinical director for children and young people said:

“When young people move services it is one of the most challenging times and we know from evidence this is often a point when they disengage or lose interest in attending. This guidance is based on the best evidence available and we urge commissioners to use it when developing their local plans.”

Evidence shows the longer between appointments the higher the chance of a young person developing psychosocial issues such as anxiety and depression and increased HbA1c. Diabetes is also linked to higher rates of eating disorders.

Nurses could offer transition services like social media, texts, emails or apps where they are available, agree goals for the individual during this period, or create a joint agreed care plan before transfer to the next service, according to the guidance.

“Making sure children and young people understand their condition and know how to effectively manage it through life is one of the most important elements of care because this reduces the likelihood of complications later in life,” she added.

There are currently 27,000 children and young people in England with diabetes, 96% of whom have Type 1.