This election matters for diabetes care – by Bruce Warwick
Bruce, the Public Affairs Officer at Diabetes UK is calling on the public to join the charity’s campaign to lobby their local political candidates and rally their support in Parliament to help improve the care and treatment of diabetes.
I think I speak for pretty much the entire country when I say it wasn’t what any of us were expecting as we settled back into work after the long Easter weekend – that is the snap general election to be held on 8 June.
At Diabetes UK, we all knew this was a big moment for the country, but also understood we’d need to rethink our best-laid campaign and parliamentary plans – and fast. On offer is a rare opportunity to make diabetes a priority for the new government, whichever colour it may be.
By 2025, it’s predicted that there will be 5.2 million people living with diabetes in the UK. Today, there are more people affected by diabetes than any other serious health condition (4.5 million living with diabetes, and 11.9 million more at increased risk of getting Type 2). The condition also places a huge burden on the NHS, costing around £10 billion every year. And, of course, behind these figures are the people who are day-in day-out managing a serious health condition which is unique to them. Addressing this is no mean feat.
When reflecting on the future, it’s important to remember some of the great progress that has been made over the past two years. We’ve had the diabetes transformation fund, which sets out to improve treatment and care for people diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and which includes a focus on footcare and education – two of our campaigns. Meanwhile, the Childhood Obesity Plan, which includes the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (also erferred to as the “sugar tax”), is a step in the right direction to keeping us all healthy.
But we mustn’t get complacent. There is still so much more that could be done. In order to ensure initiatives such as these continue or, even better, expand and improve, we need to make sure that at every opportunity we are banging the drum for diabetes. With 650 seats up for grabs, and many more candidates vying to represent those seats, there is no better time than now to fight to ensure diabetes is on the agenda.
So what are we doing?
This election, we’re encouraging our supporters to speak to their local candidates about diabetes. Any candidate who is serious about tackling the diabetes crisis is able to sign up to the Diabetes Manifesto. The manifesto sets out five key areas where we think MPs of all parties could make a difference after 8 June:
- Supporting people to better manage their diabetes
This means making sure that everyone with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can attend an education course and has access to the technology they need to help them manage their diabetes effectively day-to-day.
- Preventing life-threatening and costly complications
Diabetes complications are costly both in terms of the impact on people with diabetes, but also on the NHS. We want to see all efforts made to prevent those that can be prevented.
- Improving diabetes care in hospital
One in six hospital inpatient beds is occupied by someone living with diabetes. They may not be there because of their diabetes, nevertheless we want to make sure that no one suffers from diabetes complications while in hospital.
- Ensuring children with Type 1 diabetes are safe in school
No child with a health condition should have to worry about it when they’re at school. This includes children with Type 1 diabetes. We want more schools to have the appropriate arrangements in place to support children with Type 1 diabetes and their families.
- Reducing obesity and preventing Type 2 diabetes
Millions of people are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Whilst being overweight is not the only risk factor, it is a major contributor to risk. We want people at risk of Type 2 diabetes to be supported, and to make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone.
Want to get involved?
We’ve achieved a lot in recent years and the momentum around diabetes has been acknowledged in Parliament. This is because people such as you and other Diabetes UK supporters have decided to speak out and let their MPs know what needs to be done to transform diabetes care.
If you want to help build on this momentum, then please go ahead and ask your local candidates to support our Diabetes Manifesto and join the fight for diabetes. In a few quick steps, I’d contacted my candidates and heard back from some within the day. One of them has let me know they’ll support the cause when elected, while another has gone into more detail about how diabetes has affected them and how they’re particularly interested in research into Type 1 diabetes. Your support really can help ensure that diabetes in a priority in the next parliament.