Championing the patient perspective
I first became involved with the NHS in 1954, when I was asked to use my former professional skills as a journalist and PR executive with the Mansfield and Sutton League of Hospital Friends, of which I am now an honorary life member.
For the past few years I have been a Lay Adviser with a large Primary Care Trust in Nottinghamshire, ensuring a patient and public voice on several committees, which I also chair. Along the way I have served on diabetes-centered committees including clinical care and pathways; a diabetes retinopathy service review panel and also took part in National Collaborative seminars.
As a Type 2 diabetes patient since 1971, I have grown up with my surgery and tried to encourage greater involvement in diabetes matters with other diabetes patients, but with very limited success. The will is there on the part of the GPs and practice staff, but time for them is limited. I am now hoping that the interests of diabetes patients are supported by the new Patient Participation Groups.
In recent years I have taken a greater interest with friends on the Diabetes UK Mansfield Volunteer Support Group, and we have recently developed greater public awareness through stories in the local press, health exhibitions and regular meetings and forums. I enjoy being involved in health service developments and helping to promote the work in the local community.
There is much to do and very few people prepared to actually support their local efforts. We need to encourage more diabetes patients to help promote a public awareness of the disease; too many still think it will go away and it doesn't matter. It does!