Liz McInnes: With diabetes on the increase, we must do more to understand the condition
The number of people living with diabetes is rising fast. As healthcare evolves, we must make sure those living with the condition are given the support and understanding they need, writes Liz McInnes
Diabetes affects 4.5 million people in the UK, more than any other serious health condition. The complications of diabetes include strokes, heart failure, heart attacks, lower limb amputations, renal problems and early death.
The number of people living with diabetes is rising fast, and every day around 700 people are diagnosed. With 10% of the NHS budget being spent on diabetes and its complications every year it’s important that we talk about treatment, prevention and the future of diabetes care.
And it’s important that we listen to the voices of those living with diabetes. The charity Diabetes UK recently published their report, ‘The future of Diabetes’. based upon a consultation with over 9,000 affected people. These people said that as well as a need for a better understanding and awareness of diabetes, there are a number of ways that diabetes care can be improved.
People living with diabetes want more support for their emotional and psychological health. The effect of varying blood sugar levels on mood and the relentless need to manage the condition can affect mental health. Sixty-four per cent of people said that they sometimes or often feel down because of their diabetes.
They also want better access to healthcare professionals who understand diabetes. Many respondents said that they felt that they were being treated as a condition and a set of symptoms rather than as a human being.
They want better access to technology and treatments. Diabetes treatment is ever-evolving and advancing but 28% of those who took part in the survey reported problems in getting the medication or equipment they needed to manage their diabetes.
They want education and information to be widely available. No-one should be given a diagnosis of diabetes without being also informed of where to go for information and support.
They want more support and understanding at work and school. Good care at school is vital and all schools should have an effective care plan in place. For those in work, an understanding and informed employer can make the difference between that person being able to continue in productive work or being forced to leave because of difficulties in managing their condition while at work.
And most importantly of all, they want hope for the future. Once diagnosed, people live with diabetes for the rest of their lives. They want to know what is being done to work towards a world where diabetes can be prevented, and cured. And it’s for this reason that I’ve asked for this debate so that we can discuss research, funding, awareness, treatment, support, information and education for those living with diabetes.
Liz McInnes is Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton. Her adjournment debate on the future of diabetes care is on Monday 26 February