A pair of leading diabetes specialist nurses have become the first UK nurses to join a new charity initiative that is seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people with type 1 diabetes in South East Asia.
Bethany Kelly and Amanda Epps, the nurses behind the Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) Forum UK, have been appointed by Action 4 Diabetes to sit on its new multi-disciplinary health professionals advisory group.
“It will be great to help other nurses who are trying to do their best in the same way that we are, but with very limited resources”
The charity was set up in 2015 to support disadvantaged people aged 25 and under with type 1 diabetes in South East Asia, by improving their access to vital medicine, equipment, care and education.
The new advisory group aims to support this mission by bringing together diabetes experts from the UK and South East Asia to share expertise, learning and ideas for innovations to improve healthcare for this group of patients.
The professionals had their first virtual meeting last month and convened a list of priorities including the need to “improve the utilisation and skills” of nurses, who they said “play a key role” in the management of the condition.
Ms Kelly and Ms Epps are known for their work launching the DSN Forum UK in 2018, which was later recognised by former prime minister Theresa May in a special reception at Downing Street.
They are the only nurses from the UK to be appointed to the charity’s advisory group.
As part of their work with the group, the specialist nurses aim to create a series of educational programmes and peer support networks between nurses in South East Asia and the UK.
Ms Kelly, a diabetes specialist nurse at the Solent NHS Trust, explained that nurses in South East Asia often had access to “very limited resources and are sometimes working in poor or dangerous conditions”.
She told Nursing Times: “It will be great to use our platform we have in the UK to help other nurses who are also trying to do their best in the same way that we are, but with very limited resources. I can’t imagine how difficult that is.”
Ms Epps, a diabetes specialist nurse at Medway NHS Foundation Trust, has a child with type 1 diabetes and was also recently diagnosed with it herself.
She therefore said the charity was “very close to my heart” and that she wanted to help nurses and those with type 1 diabetes in South East Asia as much as she could.
Ms Epps told Nursing Times how they planned to use their knowledge from setting up the DSN Forum UK to create something similar for nurses in South East Asia.
The forum is believed to be the “largest national connection” of diabetes specialist nurses in the UK with more than 1,800 nurses.
“So, we are hoping we are able to use those skills to help them set up their own peer support network across those countries… so they can share the work they are doing across all of those countries and try and improve the care,” said Ms Epps.
The specialist nurses hope to be able to travel to South Asia when the coronavirus pandemic has eased as part of their work with the charity.