A FLINTSHIRE nurse has won an academic award for her work in assessing how service improvements can have a positive impact on patient care.

Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Carolyn Thelwell, is the 2020 winner of Swansea University's Frederick Banting Award.

The award recognizes outstanding education and research as part of studying to complete a degree.

Carolyn, from Mold, works in the community and in hospitals in Rhyl and the area to support people living with Diabetes.

She has studied for two years for a Masters in Diabetes Practice from Swansea University.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes people's glucose levels to rise. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, controls the amount of glucose in the blood.

Frederick Banting was a Canadian physician who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 1923 for discovering insulin in conjunction with another medical scientist John James Rickard Macleod. Until their discovery, Type 1 diabetes was a deadly condition for humans.

The prize is awarded to the highest scoring student in his / her MSc dissertation. Carolyn's work was a 15,000 word evaluation and portfolio on how improvements to patient management can be made in sub-specialty clinics.

Carolyn said: "I love my job, I think diabetes is a really interesting subject. I love being able to help people living with diabetes find out answers, and give them the skills to self-manage.

"Empowering and supporting patients is at the heart of what we do, and diabetes is huge in Wales. About 8 per cent of the population has diabetes, the highest of the four UK nations.

“The current figure of 209,000 Welsh residents is due to rise to around 300,000 by 2030, so it is a real public health concern that we need to address."

She added: "I could not have won this award or completed my masters degree without the support of my colleagues.

"Having the opportunity to do the MSc in Diabetes Practice has given me better skills and knowledge that will benefit patients and colleagues."

Carolyn's work as a Diabetes Specialist Nurse includes supporting primary care colleagues in the management of diabetes.

Diabetes is a complex condition that contributes to increased cardiovascular risk and can affect people's quality of life. Diabetes itself and associated risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, need careful management.

By working together, diabetes specialists like Carolyn and colleagues in primary care help people manage their diabetes and reduce the health complications it causes.

Gill Harris, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board's deputy chief executive, said: “Completing an MSc alongside your professional commitments is no small feat, but to be rewarded with excellence and to receive this award is testament to the great work Carolyn.

“Given the subject matter, it is a fitting tribute that almost 100 years after Frederick Banting won the Nobel prize, Carolyn received this recognition.

"It's great for her, our patients and a very proud moment for Betsi."