Corinne Wykes & Hilary Case Study

Corinne Wykes, age 63 worked for many years in the NHS and is now a Diabetes UK ‘Service Champion’ in Milton Keynes. She successfully campaigned for a local footcare team to treat people with serious foot problems which has led to a dramatic fall in amputation rates. Her daughter, Hilary 35 also from Milton Keynes, had gestational diabetes during the pregnancy of her second child last year. Here are their stories.

Corinne's story

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes over 30 years ago. At that time information about diabetes was very scarce, there was no internet, and I had never heard of Diabetes UK. Thankfully, things have changed for the better since then.

Despite having a strong family history of diabetes – both my grandmother and mother had it - I ignored my condition for 10 years until one day, I was very unwell with all the classic symptoms and went back to my GP for help. I then proceeded on my journey living with diabetes. It’s been a constant battle and I’ve had complications since, such as retinopathy and pins and needles in my feet. I found out the hard way - you can’t ignore it! I now feel in control of my condition and treat my diabetes daily with tablets and insulin.


Five years ago, I saw an advert for a Diabetes UK ‘Service Champion’ for Milton Keynes; not knowing a huge amount about the role, I decided to apply for the voluntary position. At the time, I was working as a medical laboratory scientist at Milton Keynes Hospital and had just reduced my hours so this looked like an interesting new challenge.  I was one of the first appointed in the South East region.

One of my first long-term objectives was to see a reduction in the local minor and major foot amputation rates. In order to do this it meant campaigning to get a multidisciplinary foot care team (MDfT) in place. Not an easy job, I was to find out.

(An MdFT is there for people with the most serious foot problems to help prevent amputations by ensuring rapid access to a team of professionals so that the right care is provided. Without one, people can be seen by a variety of different professionals, but often it is not joined up and there can be delays in receiving the right care.)

After becoming more involved in local diabetes care I built a relationship with hospital healthcare professionals and staff at the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). I have at every possible occasion raised a lack of such a service, and with the help and guidance of Diabetes UK, expressed my concerns. Over the years I have contacted the hospital leads in diabetes, the Chief Executive (at least three different ones) and members of the local CCG.

Championing local diabetes care has sometimes been very frustrating, but being a Champion has taught me to be patient, but also persistent and not stop campaigning. By building relationships with individuals and organisations I have helped them to progress the foot care teams. A background working in the NHS has given me the insight to succeed in the role because I understand the culture and the cost pressures they are under.

In February 2016 an MdFT was finally put into place at Milton Keynes Hospital. In the previous three years there were 102 amputations in Milton Keynes. In the first 10 months of the new service there have been just two (yes, two!).

I’m absolutely thrilled at this reduction and I recognise the impact that campaigning can have! I have congratulated the commissioners of this service and the hospital for putting it in place. I am sure that these figures will encourage the local health providers to recognise that the money spent on the MdFT is worth it and I know there are aspirations to improve these services.

Hilary’s story

Hilary Skegg is Corinne’s daughter and she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes last year during her pregnancy with her second child. She had a healthy BMI and wasn’t overweight but because of her family history with diabetes, she had a glucose tolerance test which came back positive as gestational diabetes during her second trimester. After her diagnosis, she had regular scans to check on her and the growth of her baby. It was lucky because a scan at 32 weeks picked up on a very rare and potentially life-threating condition in her unborn son – Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). It was a life-saving discovery – she was induced at 37 weeks because her diabetes had shown her blood glucose levels were very high. Knowing George had CDH, the doctors were able to deliver the baby safely and operate almost immediately on him – all because of that 32 week scan which had detected it. He was in intensive care for a month until he was able to go home to his relieved parents.

Hilary from Milton Keynes says: “Having gestational diabetes probably saved George’s life. Without that scan at 32 weeks, which I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for my diabetes, he might not be with us today. It wasn’t picked up at the 20-week scan so it certainly wouldn’t have got picked up until it came to the delivery room.  While having gestational diabetes was very hard during my pregnancy because it meant I was tired all the time and on a very strict no-carb diet of avocado for lunch and meat and veg for dinner, amazingly, I am so incredibly thankful for it! I feel lucky because it saved my little George. Happily, he is doing fine now though we will be watching him closely as he grows up with regular check-ups to look out for any developmental issues.”

“After having George, my blood sugars quickly returned to normal which I’m so grateful for. At least, my diabetes ended after having George. My mum has had to go through it every day for 30 years and it’s been hard to watch. I know how tough it is. She never complained about it – she’s a real hero. She’s worked hard to raise local awareness of diabetes with the charity over the years and the family are proud of her. My advice to people, pregnant or not, is to get yourself checked!  George is proof of how important knowing diabetes is!”