All eyes on Sunderland student in study on care for serious illness sufferers

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A DISABLED student from Wearside has signed up to research into how the health service cares for young people with serious illnesses.

Following a £2million grant from the National Institute for Health Research, Transition aims to improve the lives of those with complex health needs – covering diseases such as diabetes or asthma, conditions such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy and problems which affect mental health, such as autism and depression.

Led by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust with research by Newcastle University, it will examine how treatment and care can be best managed for teenagers as they become more responsible for their own health.

Rachael Rich, who has cerebral palsy, is due to start childhood and youth studies at Teesside University, and one of the 500 youngsters taking part in the five-year programme.

The 18-year-old, of Barnes, uses a wheelchair and relies on family and friends to help with day-to-day life.

She said: “Moving from child to adult services has been and still is very difficult - not just for me but also for my parents.

“Even though they may have met people with cerebral palsy before, no-one has the same difficulties and so, trying to explain to new people how my condition affects me can be hard.”

Professor Allan Colver, of Newcastle University and the trust’s consultant paediatrician, said: “We have a lot to learn about how children’s services in the NHS might prepare young people earlier to make the transfer and how adult services can be better attuned to understanding young people to ensure they keep getting good and consistent healthcare.”

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