A Swansea University diabetes expert was named a three-time winner at a major UK healthcare awards.

(From left) Dr Becky Thomas, Julie Lewis, also part of Diabetes 101, Chris Cottrell and Dr Rose Stewart with their awards

Dr Becky Thomas, who is senior research officer and informatics lead with the Diabetes Research Group based at the Medical School, was honoured for her willingness to go above and beyond in supporting and educating people living with diabetes.

Dr Thomas, co-programme director for the MSc Diabetes Practice, was named outstanding educator in diabetes at this year’s Quality in Care (QiC) Diabetes Awards.

In addition, she was a key part of Diabetes 101, a unique collaboration which picked up the unsung hero award and was named diabetes collaborative project of the year.

This community of 19 healthcare professionals from the multidisciplinary diabetes teams across the UK began working together at the start of the pandemic via WhatsApp.

Its aim was to plan how best to support people living with diabetes using social media, ensuring they not only had access to relevant information during the pandemic but also knew how to interpret government advice.

Dr Thomas said: “I was asked to join because my research area is diabetic retinopathy and they thought there may be a lot of eye-related questions.

“In addition to answering queries, I provided education sessions both through a tweetorial session and a live talk that was recorded and made available on the Diabetes 101 YouTube channel.

“I also created infographics about how diabetes can affect eyes and what people can do to minimise the risks.”
The competition judges described Diabetes 101 as “innovative, engaging and empowering” and said it was” a fantastic example of cross-team working.”

Dr Thomas said she was very surprised at her success. “It was such an honour just to have been nominated. I have always felt that providing people with information about eye complications in an understandable manner, using positive language would remove some of the fears people have.

“Working through Covid-19 with Diabetes 101 really made me realise how scared people are. To have this work recognised at the awards is amazing. I am completely shocked and overwhelmed.”

One of Dr Thomas’s students on the MSc course was also among the winners. Diabetes specialist nurse Chris Cottrell received the NHS Wales outstanding contribution award for services in diabetes.

Chris, who leads Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Think Glucose diabetes education programme, said: “I feel overwhelmed. It is so lovely to be recognised by my peers.  You don’t do the work for the awards, you do it because you want to make services better which is why it came as a complete surprise to me.”

She was presented with her certificate by Dr Rose Stewart who lectures on the Diabetes Practice course and was winner of the award last year.

Swansea University