Diabetelection – by Helen May


Helen MayYou may have noticed that we will soon have a General Election in the UK. Yes, we have heard all the parties tell us what they are going to do with the economy, they have all told us they are going to spend lots of money on the NHS and they all care about us, the general public. I am struggling to decide who I will give my vote to. It is difficult to separate what policies are important from who I would like to represent me and my country. Websites like Vote for Policies are a good start, but I have found it doesn’t go into enough detail about some of the policies which matter to me.

I stray away form political parties with one policy but I have started comparing them all using one topic: what are they going to do about diabetes? When over 10 per cent of the NHS budget is spent on treating people with diabetes, this has a big impact on national welfare and budget.

To this aim, I have been looking at the manifestos of the main political parties (living in England, this does not include Plaid Cymru, SNP or DUP). I am not an investigative journalist so my analysis has been a basic search for keywords. I also have no specific political leanings so, hopefully, I have not biassed my research in any way.

This is what I have discovered (the parties are ordered purely alphabetically):

Conservative Party
The Tories explicitly mention diabetes. This is with a view to prevent it through investing “in participation and physical activity”. Clearly this is focused on Type 2 diabetes which, as about 90 per cent of people with diabetes have this type and it is in the media more often, is no surprise.

They say they will protect NHS budget and invest in funding for scientific research. They do not specifically mention diabetes-related research. In fact, the only healthcare related research (as opposed to energy and automotive research) they specifically mention is dementia. The Conservatives are offering seven day a week NHS and online prescriptions. They say they “will increase the use of cost-effective new medicines and technologies, and encourage large-scale trials of innovative technologies and health services.” I hope this means greater access to insulin pumps for all.

Green Party
I am not sure the Greens want us to pick certain points from their manifesto as they have not made it searchable. Therefore, I may have missed a few points.

They seem to value research and with it freely published public funded research. I guess this could reduce the cost of new diabetes treatments if the knowledge is shared. This is followed through with their policies on the NHS by restricting the roles of commercial companies and ensuring cost effective treatment is available to all.

Like the Tories, they talk about preventing illness by treating obesity and inactivity. However, I could not find any specific mention of diabetes.

Labour Party
The Labour Party’s only mention of diabetes is straight into their emphasis on prevention. Unlike the other parties (so far), they have quoted some facts about the cost of diabetes care but this only talks about obesity. So, like the Tories, only focusing on Type 2.

When discussing the NHS, Labour will invest and specifically mentions more nurses, doctors and GPs. Their “whole person approach” may help tackle all the issues associated with diabetes such as foot care and mental health.

Liberal Democrat Party
Again diabetes is only explicitly mentioned once. However, the Liberal Democrats approach it from a slightly different angle to Labour and Conservative: they write about more people living with chronic conditions such as diabetes and dementia so needing care.

They mention funding and supporting research “to develop new treatments and find new ways of delivering innovative treatments in affordable ways.” This is something which could help people with diabetes.

I’m starting to wonder whether it is worthwhile mentioning they will invest billions into the NHS … like every other party. They do have a stronger emphasis on treating Mental Health.

UKIP uses a different format of their manifesto than the other parties. I found this difficult to read and navigate. However, I was able to do some simple searches and learnt that UKIP makes no mention of diabetes in their Manifesto. They do, as expected, write about investing in more doctors and nurses.

In conclusion
After a few hours of analysis, I feel I am no closer to deciding who to vote for. Everyone says they will invest more in the NHS and most seem to care about mental health issues. Diabetes is only used as a crutch to push the need for more exercise. I found nothing about funding research into wiping out diabetes. I guess that just means, of the UK population, not enough of us are affected by diabetes for it to be something important for the election campaigns.

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