Type 1 Diabetes petition “makes a difference”

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P-04-682 “Routine Screening for Type 1 Diabetes in Children and Young People'”
Submitted by the family of the late Peter Baldwin
Signatures: 7,917 (across two petitions)

A summary of the Petition’s Committee report is available here.

The Petition Committee’s Chair, UKIP’s David Rowlands, opened the debate by summarising the report’s findings (linked above) and paying tribute to the Baldwin family.

A Powerful Campaign

Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West) stressed the “terrifying” nature of Type 1 diabetes in children; the symptoms (“Four Ts”) can be easily confused with other illnesses. He supported one of the Committee’s headline recommendations:

“….we have to have pinprick glucometers on our desks, and in our medical bags when we do house calls. Because when there’s an ill child, we check the blood sugar—it should be there automatically. Thinking ill child—and particularly a child who is more ill than I would think it should be with the diarrhoea and vomiting—check the blood sugar.”
– Dr Dai Lloyd AM

Every GP should have fingerprick testing kits as “a measure of professional excellence” but it wasn’t entirely down to the Health Secretary to ensure this happened.

Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen) was pleased the Welsh Government have already taken steps to highlight Type 1 diabetes symptoms with local health boards.

Fatal Consequences

Mike Hedges AM (Lab, Swansea East) had personal experience of the dangerous nature of Type 1 diabetes:

“I had a student who continually drank water and frequently visited the toilet. He was generally fit and apparently healthy. He went away on holiday for two weeks one Easter, was taken ill, had complications as his diabetes had not been identified—it was too late, and then he died.”
– Mike Hedges AM

Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) said that while the Welsh Government were prepared to accept in principle many of the Committee’s recommendations, too many tasks were being passed on to other organisations such as Diabetes UK.

“I think it’s important to recognise that it is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases and its incidence is increasing. I think there is an average of one child per school in Wales that has this condition, and the number is rising by about 4 per cent each year, and rising more rapidly in children under five.”
– Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North)

Jayne Bryant AM (Lab, Newport West) – who chairs the cross-party diabetes group – was also heartened by the Welsh Government’s positive response. Jayne mentioned a new reporting system which will ensure lessons are learned from late diagnoses. However, the key was to make sure the “Four T” symptom campaign was promoted in all necessary places.

“We will continue to listen”

Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) said that while the Welsh Government didn’t support the original petition (due to lack of evidence of the effectiveness of a screening programme), it’s already made a difference.

“….we’re here today because of a very personal tragedy, but more than that, the determination of Peter Baldwin’s family to make a difference, and they have already made a considerable difference. We will continue to listen to the evidence and to learn from what we are already committed to do, and I look forward to further scrutiny on what we and our NHS are doing and, crucially, to see what difference we have made and what more we can still do.”
– Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething

He outlined a number of measures the Welsh Government were taking, including the use of fingerprick testing if “Four T” symptoms are present, a survey of all GP practices to see how many blood sugar testing kits are available and a Type 1 diabetes awareness programme.

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