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Working with your healthcare team

To support you in managing your type 1 diabetes, you will have regular check-ups with a team of healthcare professionals. This team is made up of diabetes specialists including a diabetologist or endocrinologist, a diabetes specialist nurse and dietitian. It can also include other healthcare professionals like eye and feet specialists and psychologists.
Content last reviewed and updated: 15.08.2023

A male patient having a consultation with a diabetes nurse

This information is for adults with type 1. Find out about Diabetes Paediatric Healthcare Teams in our Parents and Carers Guide.

Your check-up with your diabetes specialist

A diabetes specialist is a consultant who is an expert in type 1 diabetes. They can either be a diabetologist, who focuses only on type 1 diabetes, or an endocrinologist who specialises in range of endocrine disorders, which includes type 1 diabetes.

When do you see your diabetes specialist?

Ideally, you will have a type 1 diabetes check-up every six months with your diabetes specialist. Your clinic will contact you to let you know when your appointment is, and it will usually be at a hospital or diabetes clinic.

What happens at your type 1 check-up?

During this appointment, your diabetes specialist will check how your overall type 1 diabetes management is going.

They will take your height, weight and blood pressure and talk though the results of your blood and urine tests (see below).

You can also raise any questions or concerns about your type 1.

What tests do you need before your type 1 check-up?

Before you go for your check-up, you will need to have a blood test. Your specialist will use this to see what your HbA1c levels are. Checking your HbA1c levels shows your specialist what you blood glucose levels have been over a period of weeks or months and gives them a good overall picture of your type 1.

You will also need to have your urine tested so that your specialist can check for ketones (an indicator that your glucose levels are high), liver problems or signs of infection.

You will need to arrange these tests through your GP. The results will be discussed at your check-up, so make sure you leave enough time for the results to come through before your appointment (usually about two weeks).

Your diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN)

A diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) is a nurse who specialises in the management and treatment of type 1 diabetes. DSNs provide experience and expertise in the day-to-day management of type 1. They can give you help and advice between your appointments with your diabetes specialist.

Your dietitian

A specialist diabetes dietitian provides information on diet and nutrition in relation to managing type 1. They also help if you have other conditions related to type 1 like coeliac disease. Ask your DSN about seeing your dietician so it can be included in your review or consultant appointment.

Eye screening

Some people with type 1 diabetes can experience damage to the eye, which is called retinopathy. Catching any issues early is key to preventing problems and sight loss, so everyone with type 1 is offered an eye screening appointment once a year.

This screening is done by and ophthalmologist or optometrist. During the appointment, they will take a photo of each eye to look for any changes to your retina (the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye).

You should receive a letter with a date for your appointment. Your appointment might be at a separate eye clinic, which might not be where you usually go for your type 1 check-up.

Find out more about type 1 and eye health.

Foot checks

If you have type 1 you will have your feet checked regularly to identify any potential issues as early as possible.

Having type 1 means that you may experience nerve damage which can affect the feeling in your feet and legs, so you may not be aware of issues as they arise. It also means that conditions like ulcers may not heal properly. That’s why it’s important to have your feet checked regularly.

You will have your feet checked once a year, usually at one of your six-monthly check-ups. They will look for numbness, signs of poor circulation, corns, calluses, nail problems and other conditions.

They will discuss with you if you’re at risk of developing any foot problems and may refer you to a foot specialist (called a podiatrist) if needed.

Find out more about foot health and type 1 diabetes.

Other healthcare professionals involved in your care

Psychologist

If you are experiencing mental health issues, your Diabetes Team may refer you for psychological support. Speak to your diabetologist or DSN if you have any concerns that you’d like to address.

Read more about type 1 and emotional wellbeing and find support.

General Practitioner (GP)

The main role of your GP in your diabetes care will be to update and issue prescriptions. They can also provide you with referrals to other specialists.

Search for a GP Practice in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland if you’re not already registered.

What to do if you aren’t offered the appointments you need

If you have any problems getting the check-ups you need, contact your Diabetes Healthcare Team or GP.

If you are unable to get in contact with your team or GP, contact us at outreach@jdrf.org.uk

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