Getting involved with the NHS
Terry Nougher-Fuller, a Service Champion and Diabetes Voice from Rotherham, shares his own experience of being involved with his local NHS.
Why did you decide to join Diabetes Voices?
Care has improved beyond all recognition in the 48 years since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, but the need to develop better services continues to grow as the numbers of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes increase.
I firmly believe that better education about the condition, its risks and avoidance, as well as better care and treatment can make a big difference, but faced with that apparently uphill struggle, even the most ardent of us can feel powerless. I joined Diabetes Voices as I wanted to be part of a growing movement where every one of us can add something.
You are a Diabetes UK Service Champion in Rotherham. Have you noticed any improvements in your area since working with the network?
Being a Service Champion has enabled me to bring the patients’ experiences, needs and problems to those who have the responsibility for providing the service. The response so far has been entirely positive.
The eye screening service in our area was failing so badly a couple of years ago that it made the front page of the local newspaper. We collected the evidence, campaigned on it and took the facts to the local authority and others. We were very pleased to be asked to work closely with local healthcare professionals to improve things, and by working together we were able to get a grip on the situation and transform the care being offered locally.
What is your focus/goal for the next year?
There are massive changes under way in the NHS, but these can be opportunities to improve care for all diabetes patients if we keep our eye on that goal. My focus for the coming year will be to make sure that retinal screening services continue to provide people in South Yorkshire with the care that they deserve. We have to be prepared to change with the times and although who we’re working with may change, our overall goals remain the same.
What advice would you give to other people who want to get involved?
If you want to improve the care for people with diabetes, then join a local group and get involved. Any knowledge and experience you may have is valuable to others and you will be surprised how much more you will learn yourself in the process and where your journey may take you.
As a Service User Rep, understand what your role in the committee or group is. It is much easier to achieve something if you know what you are aiming for and how you can contribute to achieving it.