Clinicians will screen football fans for diabetes for the first time in the UK on Saturday (09 February) when Southampton host Cardiff City at St Mary’s Stadium.
The idea is the brainchild of Dr Mike Sadler (right), a clinical non-executive director at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, and will identify a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes within five minutes.
Supporters of all ages and genders from both teams will be offered the opportunity to give a finger prick blood sample to measure HbA1c, which is a marker of how much sugar (glucose) has been in the blood over the last two to three months.
This will highlight whether or not a person is at risk of type 2 diabetes or likely to have it. If needed, they will be given a letter to give to their GP along with advice on the next steps.
More than 90% of the 3.5 million people in the UK diagnosed with diabetes have type 2, which is associated with an inactive lifestyle, being overweight and a poor diet.
It is estimated another one million people are undiagnosed and a further 12.3 million are at increased risk of developing it, with middle-aged males a group at higher risk and also less likely to visit their GP for testing.
The condition increases the risk of heart and kidney failure and can lead to stroke, blindness and nerve damage.
Screening, which will be carried out by clinicians led by Dr Mayank Patel, a consultant in diabetes at UHS, and nurses from Solent NHS Trust, is being funded by Southampton Hospital Charity and supported by Saints Foundation and the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation.
“It is possible to live undiagnosed with type 2 diabetes for months as it does not always cause symptoms but it can cause internal damage, so the earlier it is diagnosed the sooner treatment can begin,” said Dr Patel, pictured left in clinic.
“We know that many people may be at risk of developing the condition and a large number do not attend testing when called for by their GP, so this is an innovative approach at trying to tackle some of those who may be at increased risk.”
Dr Sadler, pictured right, said: “As far as we're aware this is the first time screening has been carried out at a football match and it is a chance for people to help their health at the same time as supporting their football team.
“If the pilot is successful, we are hopeful this will lay the foundation for potential screening clinics at football grounds across the country to help tackle what is a significant and growing problem.”
He added: "This wouldn't have been possible without the support of the diabetes team at UHS, Southampton Hospital Charity, Saints Foundation and the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation – a fantastic team effort."
Testing will take place in a marquee next to the Gasworks Lounge outside the Kingsland Stand at St Mary’s from 12pm on Saturday.
Posted on Wednesday 6 February 2019