‘’Short may it continue!’’ – by Chris Askew
Today, on World Diabetes Day, we welcomed the Prime Minister Rt.Hon. Theresa May MP to Diabetes UK’s new London office, which she formally opened for us. She came to see some of our work at first hand and to hear from people with diabetes about how they are managing their diabetes. What helps. And what gets in the way.
The Prime Minister already knows a lot about the challenges of diabetes – she was diagnosed first with Type 2 and then correctly with Type 1 in 2012. Today, she heard from a great variety of other people living with diabetes. People who have overcome difficulties in school, managed diabetes as a young adult or who have volunteered to speak about diabetes in their local communities.
People have told me how pleased they were to talk to the Prime Minister about their diabetes story and for us at Diabetes UK, her visit was a boost to the work we do here in London and right across the UK.
Her visit comes as diabetes is rising up the agenda. There have been three prime time programmes about diabetes in the last six weeks. There are more MPs making the case for diabetes in national parliaments than ever. In Scotland, diabetes is a national indicator for the whole government. Northern Ireland is preparing to implement an ambitious new diabetes strategy while in Wales Diabetes UK is working closely with the NHS to make sure their national plan comes to fruition.
Meanwhile, diabetes is one of six clinical priorities for the NHS in England – and is part of the system for judging the quality of local NHS bodies.
English NHS organisations are preparing plans to spend an extra £40m in England to improve diabetes services. It follows Diabetes UK working closely with NHS England to convince the Treasury that investing in good care now can save money in the future.
That partnership is going to continue as we try to make sure that the money is spent wisely. We want to make the biggest difference possible to key parts of people’s care – diabetes education, care in hospitals, footcare for those at risk of amputation and help for local areas to support more people to reach their targets for HbA1c, blood pressure and cholesterol.
This is great news. When I spoke to Mrs May, our conversation was really focussed on how people with diabetes need the right support so that they can manage their own diabetes and avoid devastating complications.
During her visit she also heard about getting children the right support in school. Since we helped change the law so that schools have a legal duty to provide good care more parents are happy with the care for children. But it is still not consistent enough. Thousands of people have supported the petition calling on Ofsted to make care for children with medical conditions part of their school inspections.
Today wasn’t about getting instant answers. It was about showing the Prime Minister the difference that Diabetes UK’s work makes to all kinds of people with diabetes, to encourage the Government to continue to prioritise improvements in diabetes care and to commit our London office to years of excellent work in the years ahead. She seemed impressed and wished us success in delivering our vision of a world were diabetes can do no harm, adding that rather than ‘long may our work continue’, she wished ‘short may it continue’ – we couldn’t agree more.