Launching the future of diabetes – by Helen May

Earlier this year, I joined the Big Conversation where we had the opportunity to discuss what we wanted for the future of diabetes. I was one of over 9,000 people involved in this conversation which provided a lot of information for Diabetes UK to consume, analyse and make sense of. And, only a few months later, they have made a lot of sense of it with their report “The future of diabetes“.

The report is a great document with some perfect recommendations which I remember from my day at the discussion: the passion from the woman who wanted everyone with diabetes to have flash glucose monitoring is reflected in the demand for “Better access to technology and treatments”; the woman who described her son’s tales of coping with diabetes at school is reflected in the recommendation for “More support and understanding at work and school”; even the lunchtime conversation I had about joined up healthcare is reflected in the suggestions for “Better access to healthcare professionals who understand diabetes”. But don’t take my word for it, it is available for everyone to read.

The future of diabetes report is packed with great recommendations

As good as any report is, it will not provoke any change unless it is known about. Therefore, last week, the report was launched in the Terrace Pavilion at the Houses of Parliament. I was very privileged to be invited to attend and how could I refuse?

It was my first ever visit to the Palace of Westminster. I was, initially, in awe of the splendour of the architecture and how easy it was to walk around despite the very obvious security. But, I knew I was there for Diabetes UK not as a tourist, so I made my way to the event where I was joined by over a hundred people. There was, unsurprisingly, a large contingent from Diabetes UK but there were also representatives there from other diabetes charities such as JDRF and INPUT.

The right care can make a huge difference to people living with diabetes

I saw people labelled as “Clinical Champions” who I learnt are an amazing group of dedicated health care professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to improve the level of care in their area. Also in attendance were members of the Diabetes UK Board of Trustees. And there were people, like me, who were from the Diabetes Voices group. But, perhaps, key to the proceedings and the reason we were in the Houses of Parliament, there were nearly 30 MPs at the event. Unfortunately, my local MP could not make it but she replied to my invitation and asked to be kept informed of future Diabetes UK events.

The canapes were lovely. The informal chats were interesting. But we were there to hear about this report and why it is so important. This was done by (pictured left to right above): Diabetes UK Chief Executive Chris Askew, Liz McInnis MP, Health Minister Steve Brine MP, and Colin, who talked about living with diabetes.

Liz introduced the report, Chris talked through what it said, Steve discussed what the government was already doing and what commitments they would make. But, for me, the best speech by far was from Colin – he told his personal diabetes story which put a human face on both the suffering diabetes can bring and the difference the right care can make.

It was a wonderful event, a great launch of a great report … have I mentioned it is worth reading?  The highlights for me were to meet and talk to two diabetes stars: Chris Askew and, my fellow blogger, Andy Broomhead.

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