First update of 2013 – by Barbara Young


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Barbara Young Much work fitted in in January between dodging everyone else’s coughs and wheezes! Hot and cold running Ministerial meetings with the new ministerial team where we stressed the need to prioritise diabetes if the NHS is not going to be overwhelmed by the rising tide of Type 2 diabetes.

We keep being told that unchecked growth in diabetes and its complications is understood and that means are being put in place to deal with that. However the very important support and improvement actions that NHS Diabetes had put in place are now being de-funded, dispersed and genericised to the point of extinction, and we risk having no specific skills or resources in either the Department of Health or the NHS Commissioning Board focussed on diabetes.

Diabetes isn’t just another long term condition or another vascular disease, but is now the major root cause of stroke, heart disease, blindness, amputation and kidney failure. It needs leadership. Behind the scenes the Department of Health and NHS Commissioning Board are putting together their response to last year’s critical Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on adult diabetes services in England. It will need to have some real delivery in it for us and, I suspect, Margaret Hodge, the PAC chair, to be convinced.

We saw the successful launch of our partnership with Boots, where Diabetes UK’s Type 2 risk assessments will be offered in every Boots pharmacy across the UK. In the first six days over 1800 people were risk assessed and given help and insight into reducing their risk of Type 2 diabetes, or were referred to their GP for a full healthcheck if at high risk.

The launch was slightly whacky with lollipop ladies (personnel crossing operatives?) representing how they look after people and so does the risk assessment process! Boots is also promoting our 15 healthcare essentials for people with diabetes too. A good example of our skills and a corporate partner’s reach being a winning combination.

There was another result when NICE relented and agreed that Lucentis should be allowed to be prescribed for diabetic macular degeneration in defined circumstances, so that 25,000 people can avoid facing blindness for the future. We campaigned jointly with RNIB and other charities, and are delighted on behalf of people with diabetes that sense has been seen. Congratulations also to the manufacturer of the drug for reducing the costs in a way which helped the cost benefit equation stack up.

Until next month…

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