Diabetes patients and their families in Buckinghamshire are flocking to a new website which was set up to give them a discussion forum for their views and ideas.
The Improve Bucks Diabetes site was launched in June and within the first six weeks had received 1,500 visitors in a joint project run by the County Council and health chiefs.
It has been so successful that some users are now trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a view to setting up a new diabetes forum.
“The aim was take an innovative approach to the way in which we engage with patients and to tap into people’s ideas and comments to discover what they want in terms of diabetes services in Bucks,” said Jack Workman, Project Officer.
“We are delighted with the success so far because people have really seemed to engage and want to discuss the relevant issues around diabetes.”
The website was set up with two key goals:
• To listen to the views of people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to help shape healthcare services so that Buckinghamshire can ensure it is offering appropriate care.
• To raise awareness of diabetes in Buckinghamshire, by highlighting important health issues and by giving people with diabetes a platform to express their challenges and triumphs.
Visitors to the site are set challenges to initiate participation and encourage them to post their own views.
The project, which is still in pilot stage, is run by the Assistive Technology Team based at Buckinghamshire County Council which also reports in to the NHS Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Groups with input from patient representative organisations such as Healthwatch Bucks.
Dr Kathy Hoffmann, Diabetes Clinical Lead for Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Groups, is thrilled with the way the public has responded to the site. The advantage, she says, is that people can log on and post their thoughts every day.
“It’s taken off and developed a life of its own – the site has become the patients’ voice,” she said. “Several hundred people are returning time and again to it. People who would not normally be able to come to meetings to engage with us are now able to give us opinions at every stage of the process. And these views really do matter because every opinion expressed on the site is used to help us make decisions.”
The opinions proved important, recently, when blood glucose monitoring was being discussed. “Several people gave their thoughts in advance on this subject,” said Dr Hoffmann. “It was like they were at the meeting.”
Dr Hoffmann is now appealing for even more people to visit the site: “If you have ever felt that you could help improve the care available for patients with diabetes, then now is your chance and we would like to hear from you. We would like to hear not only from those who have diabetes but their families and friends too.”
Mike Appleyard, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “I am really pleased that this has been so successful and we are engaging now in a different, but highly effective way, with the public over diabetes. Well done to everyone involved in setting this up.”
To visit the new website, go to: https://improvebucksdiabetes.crowdicity.com/