Diabetes UK Cymru calls for access to diabetes psychology across Wales

The charity is holding a Senedd event tomorrow, sponsored by Brecon and Radnorshire MS James Evans, to launch the campaign.

Tuesday 14th June 2022 6:00 pm
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To mark Diabetes Week, Diabetes UK Cymru is launching a campaign to highlight the inequalities faced by many living with diabetes when accessing psychology services.

Diabetes Week started yesterday, Monday, June 14, and runs all week.

In some areas, people living with diabetes do not have access to psychological support and they either have to wait years or are referred to services that are not specialised in diabetes.

The charity is proposing that a new model of support is to be made available to everyone living with diabetes in Wales. And so is endorsing From Missing to Mainstream” – A Values-Based Action Plan for Diabetes Psychology in Wales” by Consultant Clinical Psychologist for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Diabetes UK Clinical Champion, Dr Rose Stewart.

Diabetes UK Cymru is hosting a Senedd event to launch this report and campaign with the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle MS, sponsored by MS Evans, who is the Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Mid Wales, at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff on Wednesday, June 15 at 8.30 am.

Dr Rose Stewart said: “Managing diabetes is relentless, demanding, and complex. People living with diabetes have higher levels of psychological issues such as anxiety and depression as well as diabetes-related disordered eating (diabulimia), diabetes distress, and burnout.

“We are proposing that diabetes psychology should become mainstream, embedded in routine care, accessible and flexible so that people living with diabetes feel supported in managing their condition wherever they live.” 

Poet and rapper, Duke Al Durham, a supporter of the charity will talk about his experience of living with type 1 diabetes and mental health issues, including OCD, and read his poem “Burn Out” at the Senedd event. 

Young mum with type 1 diabetes resorts to paying for private psychotherapy 

Ebony Hussey, 30, from Caldicot lives with type 1 diabetes and has suffered loss of sight in one eye, as a complication of her condition. This and other struggles associated with diabetes, juggling two young children, and work affected her mental health. She has resorted to paying for private therapy since she’s unable to get access to a psychologist on the NHS. 

“Diabetes is overwhelming and exhausting. I also suffered further complications due to my condition as some people do even when they are young. That’s why I decided to get CBT therapy privately. I was never offered any psychological help. It’s all focused on stats: if your blood sugar levels are good, then you are left to get on with it”, she explained. 

Diabetes UK Cymru’s National Director, Rachel Burr said: “Psychological support has been missing from diabetes services for too long to the detriment of those living with diabetes, their families, and the care teams who support them, and the COVID19 pandemic only made matters worse.

“Diabetes is serious, affecting 1 in 13 people in Wales and the demands of living with diabetes can be extremely tough. It impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Access to psychological support in Wales is either non-existent, patchy, disjointed, underfunded, understaffed, or a postcode lottery. That has to change.” 

From Missing to Mainstream: addressing the growing demand for diabetes psychology 

The need for psychological services was recognised in the Welsh Government’s most recent Diabetes Delivery Plan (2016 to 2021), which estimated that 41% of people living with diabetes in Wales are believed to have poor psychological wellbeing. 

The “From Missing to Mainstream” campaign builds on the “Too often missing. Making emotional and psychological routine in diabetes care” report published in 2019. 

Of those surveyed then who had felt they needed specialist care from a mental health professional, seven in ten couldn’t access it. 

Under the Diabetes Delivery Plan, Local Health Boards were required to ensure that sufficient psychological input into the management of all patients is. But at present NHS Wales sets itself no measurable targets on the delivery of psychological support to those with long-term conditions, with a huge variance in service delivery across the nation. Furthermore, many of the services that provide psychological support are already at breaking point and in desperate need of more resources. We are waiting on the publication of robust Quality Statements with accompanying action plans to set out the expectations for delivery of psychological support for diabetes. These cannot come soon enough.

Diabetes UK Cymru aims to relaunch this campaign and gather further data on the impact of the lack of psychological support on people living with diabetes. 

Dr Rose Stewart’s report was commissioned by the All Wales Diabetes Implementation Group, which brings together diabetes specialist doctors and nurses, NHS managers, third sector, and other stakeholders in consultation with patients.

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