Thursday 10 September 2015
Simon Stevens,Simon Stevens,NHS England Chief Executive, met with Diabetes UK, along with the Type 1 diabetes charityJDRF, and a group of MPs interested in diabetes, in Parliament this week. Robin Hewings, Diabetes UK Head of Policy, shares his thoughts on how it went: "Being chief executive of NHS England must be like being a secular pope. All those hospitals. All that money!" This description of Simon Stevens, the top boss of the NHS in England, made at a meeting this week in Parliament by the chair of the group of parliamentarians interested in diabetes drew a smile from Mr Stevens. It suggested he thought ‘If only’. But when campaigning for better care for people with diabetes, he is one of the people we most want to speak to. This week he was the star guest at the diabetes group of MPs that Diabetes UK and JDRF help organise. So it is a big opportunity to make our case. Mr Stevens has already started to respond to the challenge of diabetes with a new programme to help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes. The speed of the rollout is impressive. Seven areas will be helping people before the end of the year. 100,000 people will be helped in a few years. But changes to lifestyle will not prevent Type 1 diabetes or MODY - nor help many people with Type 2. With three million people already diagnosed with diabetes, the NHS needs to up its game on looking after people with diabetes. However, the days when the NHS was run through strategies about particular conditions are largely gone. Central action is rare. But we think the very high bar for national action has been made in some key areas. We need much more education for people to learn about their diabetes - and better care for feet and people with diabetes in hospital. More generally, Whitehall can also push, prod and support local areas to raise their performance in diabetes to the level of the best. Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK pressed him on this agenda at the meeting - as we have been doing through a succession of reports, briefings and meetings. Is he going to do it? He’s certainly interested. And he knows that Diabetes UK - and a committed group of parliamentarians - will never stop making the case for people with diabetes.