Time to talk about diabetes

In the time it takes you to read this article, more than £25,000 will have been spent by the NHS on diabetes care.

Latest figures show that diabetes is on the rise with type 2 of the condition impacted by growing levels of inactivity and diet-related issues. It is predicted that the cost of the condition will further escalate if more isn’t done to increase awareness about the risks and consequences of diabetes.

Today marks the start of National Diabetes Week, with an emphasis on people having honest and open conversations about their condition with healthcare professionals, employers, friends and family.

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Coinciding with with Men's Health Week, that advice is being targeted particularly at males with latest figures from the Men’s Health Forum showing that one in ten has the condition.

For more than a decade University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust has been pioneering new approaches to not only finding ways to raise awareness of the impact of the condition, but also helping people to manage their diabetes more effectively.

Lead diabetes consultant Dr Mayank Patel said: “Awareness weeks are really important because they give a focus to the condition and why it needs to be taken seriously. As we are living longer and seeing lower activity levels we are also seeing rates of type 2 diabetes increase in adults and, worryingly, children.

“Our challenge is to ensure the public recognises how they can take steps to look after their health, and find ways for people to live well with diabetes.”

Innovative projects

Dr Patel has been involved in a number of innovative projects to try and increase awareness and promote better management of diabetes, including co-authoring a comic book aimed at older children and young adults with type 1 diabetes.

To date more than 8,000 copies of the award-winning Type 1:Origins comic developed with Dr Partha Kar of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, have been downloaded internationally. Its success has led to a second instalment being produced. Type 1: Attack of the Ketones which due to be released in the autumn.

“The feedback, particularly from parents and grandparents, about how it has helped their children understand and manage their diabetes has been fantastic for everyone involved in the comic,” added Dr Patel.

The comic has been one of many innovative approaches to tackling the increasing number of people with diabetes. According to the latest figures between 15 and 20 per cent of people who are admitted to UHS are known to have diabetes and as a result the Trust has developed new ways to better support those patients. The quality of diabetes care at UHS would not be possible without essential contributions from wider multidisciplinary team of specialist nurses, dietitians and supporting clerical and administrative staff. 

Last year Trust became the first in the country to appoint a consultant pharmacist in diabetes and endocrinology. Philip Newland-Jones, who has been in post since November, is able to share prescribing responsibilities with diabetes consultants, lead ward rounds and carry out patient reviews post-discharge.

Dr Patel also co-created a smartphone app, Microguide DiAppBetes, that is able to provide key information to support non-specialist doctors and nurses who look after patients with the condition.

Dr Patel said: “We are constantly trying to find new ways to better treat and also prevent diabetes from happening in the first place. Having those conversations about diabetes is really important. We need to keep on finding ways to reach people who may be at risk and also empower those who do have diabetes to manage the condition with the help of both the medical profession and their own support networks.”

 This week we will be joining the #talkaboutdiabetes campaign on our social media channels. Follow the conversation @UHSFT

Posted on Monday 11 June 2018