What it means to be a Diabetes UK Clinical Champion – by Dr Vinesh Sobha

vinesh-150x150I’m a GP with specialist interest in diabetes working in Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire. Becoming a Diabetes Clinical Champion has been a great privilege and so far and has enabled me to try and really ‘champion’ positive change in diabetes care.

For the 2 years prior to becoming clinical champion, I was already working actively as a volunteer with my CCG to try and improve diabetes care in my locality and to introduce an integrated service.  I have always felt quite passionate about diabetes. This is because I was born on a beautiful island – Mauritius and the country has a very high rate of diabetes. I remember family members being affected by diabetes.

Becoming a Clinical Champion gave my passion a new dimension. It gave me more authority and a positive boost of confidence and kept me more motivated. I was able to successfully engage my fellow colleagues in my locality to get behind my project for an improved integrated diabetes service.  Despite facing many obstacles along the way, I never lost hope that one day, we would have a successful integrated care service in my locality which delivers extremely high quality care to patients and which provides individualised patient-centred care. The service we are now rolling out will have a multi-disciplinary team with a doctor, nurse, podiatrist, dietitian and even a psychologist delivering care when needed in the community.

Since becoming a Clinical Champion, I have had the opportunity to attend Ashridge Business School where I learnt some really valuable leadership and management skills , e.g. ‘ Influencing without authority’ which I found quite fascinating and useful. I use some of these skills positively on a daily basis now. Meeting enthusiastic colleagues from all around the UK and sharing our challenges while trying to come up with constructive solutions with the support of Diabetes UK also kept my confidence going.

As a Champion I have been able to contribute to the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes in the House of Commons and also became a specialist committee member on the Quality Standards in Diabetes committee for NICE.  The journey so far has been extremely fulfilling but also quite demanding.  I have to devote quite a lot of time to improving ‘diabetes care’ and I have to answer several emails everyday dedicated to diabetes. I have been asked to speak at several meetings including Diabetes UK 2016 meeting and been very involved in educating fellow professionals in diabetes care and have even been invited to speak at the House of Commons again. I have to say it always feels very rewarding.

With all the support that being a ‘clinical champion’ brings, I feel confident that I can contribute positively to improving diabetes care.


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