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Diabetes Week 2021: A Message from our Chief Executive, Chris Askew

Diabetes Week

After such a tumultuous, difficult year for so many of us in our community, it has never felt so important to be able to bring us all together, share our experiences, reflect on the year just passed, and look to the future in hope.

And that’s just what we have done this past Diabetes Week, in handing the microphone to you, the community we’re so proud to serve every day, to hear your stories, in your own words. And you have certainly risen to that challenge this week.  

Your stories will have inspired thousands and certainly they inspire all of us at Diabetes UK, every single day. It has been fascinating, disarming and awe-inspiring to hear from Sean, Snita, Kultar, Jayne, Nicola and Faye, who have taken over our social media and emails this week, and from the many thousands of you who have joined the conversation and shared your experiences and support with each other so willingly. 

How fantastic then, that in this week where we came together to share, reflect and celebrate as a community, that we should learn the hugely significant news that a new pilot will offer hybrid closed-loop systems to adults and children with type 1 diabetes through the NHS in England. 

The evidence and technology behind this pilot is the result of many years of investment in ground-breaking research, funded by us and by others, and this announcement is a testament to the partnership working between the NHS in England, charities and industry. We must hope now that from this trial, access to closed loops becomes more widely available right across the UK. 

The significance of this announcement, 100 years after the life-saving discovery of insulin, and more than 40 years in the making, cannot be understated. 

The shared history of Diabetes UK and our supporters in making our contribution to the pilot possible – from funding the UK’s first ever artificial pancreas in 1977 to helping doctors stabilise the blood glucose levels of patients with type 1 in surgery and childbirth; to funding one of the first trials to understand the effectiveness of this tech in people with type 2 diabetes – paves the way to making this tech more widely available, and changing so many more lives, in the future.

With 2021 marking the commemoration of 100 years since the discovery of insulin, we look to the future even as we reflect on the journey through the past and celebrate the achievements of today. Our fight for better, wider, fairer access to diabetes technologies continues today, and will continue until everyone who could benefit from these life-changing tools can get them.

Diabetes Week may very soon be ending for another year, but our fight – together – goes on, for a world where diabetes can do no harm. 

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