Diabetes UK hosted a special event in the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday 4th November) to launch its newTaking Control campaign.
The campaign is calling for everyone with diabetes to have access to education courses about how to manage their diabetes well. Education is essential for people with diabetes as they have to manage their condition themselves on a daily basis, and may only see their healthcare professionals a few times a year. But currently only 3.6 per cent of people newly diagnosed with diabetes in England attend an education course.
Diabetes UK is warning that the poor access to diabetes education is fuelling devastating health complications for people with the condition and huge costs to the NHS. This is because failure to manage diabetes effectively can lead to life-threatening complications such as blindness, stroke and amputations. These complications cause personal devastation and are also extremely costly to the health service. The NHS spends nearly £10 billion annually on diabetes, 80 per cent of which is spent on treating potentially avoidable complications.The event was attended by over 70 guests including MPs, peers, diabetes campaigners and healthcare professionals. At the event, diabetes campaigners got the chance to directly appeal to MPs to take action to help improve access to diabetes education.
NHS at real risk
Speaking at the event Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “There is a very real risk that the fast rising incidence of diabetes could put great pressure on an already stretched NHS if we don’t find a way to help people stay healthy for longer. And yet we know in principle what it takes to do just that; for individuals with diabetes to manage their condition well, they need the information and tools to understand their diabetes and to control it. This is where diabetes self-management education comes in – it gives people the skills, the knowledge and the confidence they need to take charge of their own health. “This is why today Diabetes UK is launching the Taking Control campaign. We’re calling for every clinical commissioning group to put plans in place to ensure all people with diabetes have skills and confidence to manage their condition by 2020.”Guests also heard from diabetes campaigners Malcolm Bigg, 69, and Charlotte Lightman, 27, who spoke movingly about how receiving diabetes education had enabled them to gain better control over their condition and ultimately their lives.Malcolm was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes aged 55, and is Chair of our Brentwood Diabetes UK Support Group. He attended a DESMOND course (Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed), which supports people with Type 2 diabetes to manage their condition well. Malcolm said: “I realised that if I didn’t look after my diabetes there would be consequences. Going on a DESMOND course gave me the confidence to know that if I took control of my condition and managed it, it wouldn’t affect my life.“As a result of the course. I lost three stone, and managed to get my HBA1C down to 6.2 with little variation on a day to day basis. My cholesterol came down from 4.5 to 3.3 and my BP has come down to 130/70. I go to the gym for 5-7 hours a week and can still Scuba Dive at 69!”Charlotte has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 20 years. She went on a DAFNE course (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating), which supports people with Type 1 diabetes, two years ago. Charlotte said: “Before I attended the DAFNE course, the only education I received about treating and managing my diabetes was through 4-6 monthly hospital check-ups. These appointments often provide only a short 10 minute slot with a diabetes specialist doctor. “I went on a DAFNE course in 2013 as I had been trying very hard to improve my blood glucose levels but was still having lots of problems. During the week-long DAFNE course I really got the chance to learn how a range of things from alcohol to exercise could affect my blood glucose levels. Since going on the course my blood glucose control has improved and I feel much more confident managing my diabetes and doing the things I enjoy like running. I’m now training for a half marathon.”To ensure that all people with diabetes have access to education, the new campaign is calling for local health leaders to invest in diabetes education courses, along with ensuring that a proper local system is put in place that explains to people with diabetes the benefits they will gain from attending an education course.
To find out more about going on an education course, speak to your GP or healthcare professional.