The Foundation of European Nurses in Diabetes By Anne-Marie Felton

Anne-Marie Felton, former Diabetes Specialist Nurse and co-founder and President of FEND – the Foundation of European Nurses in Diabetes, writes about its role in diabetes care.

In 1980 Anne-Marie Felton was appointed as a Diabetes Nurse Specialist, ten years later she took early retirement in order to pursue pro-bono voluntary work within the charity sector. She was a vice-president of Diabetes UK and subsequently appointed Ambassador.
She also served on the Board of the International Diabetes Federation and was one of the key lobbyists to the United Nations for the establishment of World Diabetes Day. Together with Dr Michael Hall she co-chaired the three editions of “The Diabetes Policy Puzzle”. She is co-founder and President of the Foundation of European Nurses in Diabetes (FEND).

The Foundation of European Nurses in Diabetes (FEND) was established in 1995 and promotes the professional role of nurses working in diabetes care, research and education in Europe. How Fend works:

FEND works in collaboration with the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) Europe, World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe, European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), Primary Care Diabetes Europe (PCDE), Alliance for European Diabetes Research (EURADIA), national diabetes
nursing organisations and European Diabetes Forum (EUDF). FEND has also collaborated with leading European Universities to establish the FEND
MSc accredited programme.

Since its initiation, over 500 nurses have completed or are participating in the FEND MSc programme. FEND’s two day Annual Conference precedes the EASD conference each year, and attracts a range of health care professionals in diabetes, as well as nurses.

FEND’s Aims and Objectives:

  • To promote for the public benefit improvements in the health and treatment of people with diabetes by the development and promotion of the role of
    the diabetes nurse specialist throughout Europe.
  • To promote for the public benefit the education and training of nurses working in diabetes care throughout Europe, by the development and
    support of training programmes, Including the organisation of conferences and symposia, to further such programmes and the dissemination of information relating to the proceedings at such conferences or symposia.

FEND is a registered charity in England. It is important to emphasise that FEND does not employ any staff and does not have physical offices and is in fact a “virtual” organisation. Considering the impact of COVID-19 and its implications or the future perhaps virtual organisations may be the modus operandi for NGOs in the future.

In establishing FEND the founders were hugely supported by individuals from other relevant organisations, in particular I want to mention the unfailing
support of Dr Michael Hall in his capacity as a former Chair of Diabetes UK and as a member of the IDF Europe Executive Committee. In recognition
of his contribution to FEND in his leadership roles his was made an honorary member of FEND.

Since its foundation, FEND has provided academically accredited programmes for diabetes specialist nurses in primary, secondary and community care.
The suite of programmes consist of: MSc programme, PhD programme and post doc programme and are funded by FEND so there is no cost to eligible
member participants. FEND has also established and funded the FEND Chair in Diabetes Nursing at the Florence Nightingale faculty of nursing and midwifery at Kings College London.

It is noteworthy that participants in these programmes come from across Europe and this adds to the richness of the programmes, particularly as our health care systems differ one from another and the recognition and contribution of diabetes specialist nurses in
various countries is very variable.

Our hope for these programmes is that they will enhance the competency, skills and recognition of the key role of specialist nurses in relation to diabetes
service provision and also policy development and implementation at international level.

Since 2009 our conferences are webcast after the event and can be viewed on FEND website. in honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale and by coincidence it is also the 25th anniversary of FEND. While FEND originally intended to mark the 25th anniversary the global challenge of COVID-19 has naturally diverted our attention to some extent. The impact of COVID-19 on people with diabetes is serious and potentially presents significant
challenges in the crisis management for individuals so affected.It is imperative that diabetes specialist teams are engaged with front line staff delivering COVID-19 care to advise on the unique demands of people with diabetes in their care. The Diabetes UK website is an important reference source in supporting people with diabetes. The Diabetes Group Isle of Wight is hugley relevant at a local level, not only to people with diabetes, but also their immediate and extended families.

Inevitably, there is considerable discussion about the shape of health service provision post COVID-19 but there will be a post COVID-19 period and diabetes remains with us. Diabetes service provision is critical to the health of and empowerment of people with diabetes nationally and internationally. The inter-disciplinary nature of diabetes service provision will no doubt change. How we, as specialist nurses, influence that change is a significant responsibility and challenge but engage we must.