Clinicians across Suffolk and north east Essex are launching a major public awareness campaign in order to improve awareness of diabetes.
Around 48,000 people across the two areas currently live with the condition, which if not managed correctly can result in serious health complications such as blindness, kidney failure, stroke and loss of limbs.
The campaign – called ‘Let’s Beat Diabetes Together’ – has been launched to mark World Diabetes Day on Tuesday 14th November 2017.
It aims to help people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes manage their health better.
Health chiefs also aim to educate the wider public about how they can help prevent developing type 2 diabetes in the first place by making modest adjustments to their lifestyles and diets.
According to the charity Diabetes UK the cost to the nation associated with treating diabetes currently stands at £23.7 billion-a-year. That figure is expected to almost double over the next 20 years.
Professor Gerry Rayman, Senior Diabetologist and lead of diabetes research at Ipswich Hospital’s Diabetes Centre, said: “Diabetes is fast becoming the biggest health threat in the UK and can reduce life expectancy.
“However, if managed correctly, many people can go on to lead happy and independent lives without developing these complications.”
Prof Rayman, who is also an adviser to Diabetes UK and Clinical Lead in Diabetes for NHS Improvement’s national diabetes improvement initiative GIRFT (Getting It Right First Time), advised people with diabetes to undergo regular checks to ensure they are controlling their condition.
He said: “They should monitor their cholesterol, blood pressure and kidney function to ensure they are kept at safe levels to avoid future complications.
“It is essential that everyone living with diabetes has a chance to learn how they can manage their condition well and how their health care provider can help. All will be revealed to them when they attend one of these essential courses.”
The NHS provides two nationally-recognised courses across Suffolk and north east Essex which are designed to support people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
The DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Diabetes) course aims to equip those living with type 1 diabetes with the skills to count carbohydrates, self-adjust insulin doses and have more confidence in self-managing their condition.
The DESMOND (Diabetes Education for Self Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) course is for people living with type 2 diabetes and covers a range of topics including the nature of diabetes, carbohydrates and fats, goal setting and ways of working towards lifestyle improvements.
The aim of both nationally accredited courses is to empower people with diabetes to be confident in self-managing the condition.
Adele Holcombe, Specialist Dietitian and Service Manager at the North East Essex Diabetes Service (NEEDS), said: “Poorly controlled diabetes is a ticking time bomb, but we know that attending structured education can greatly reduce the risk of developing life threatening and debilitating complications which can be personally devastating.
“Although these education courses are readily available, UK figures show that less than 10 per cent of those diagnosed with diabetes attend.
“The feedback from people who have attended is that they have been extremely worthwhile, and very often people tell us they wish they had attended sooner.”
Danielle, who lives in Colchester with type 1 diabetes, has attended a DAFNE course, said: “DAFNE exceeded my expectations and I learned far more than I had ever expected.
“I made a new group of friends who understand the everyday struggles of living with type 1 diabetes. It was an invaluable experience and I wished I had known it all a lot sooner.”
Julie (Nicholls), from Glemsford in Suffolk, who lives with type 2 diabetes, attended a DESMOND course after being diagnosed three months ago.
She said: “I’ve always had a healthy and balanced diet but many years ago I had to have my gall bladder removed and I developed pancreatitis.
“I was left with a damaged pancreas which is getting more and more sluggish as I grow older and so I have had to be very careful about what I eat.
“My doctor suggested I attend a one-day DESMOND course which was taking place in Sudbury and said he thought it would help me manage my diabetes – and he was right.
“The people running the course told us about the amount of fat and sugars in a whole host of different foods and it was a real eye-opener to everyone on the course.
“It was extremely informative and I’d recommend it to anyone with type 2 diabetes.”
For more details about diabetes education and of how to get on to a DAFNE or DESMOND course please contact:
• North East Essex CCG area – 0345 241 3313
• Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG area – 01473 704180
• West Suffolk CCG area – 01284 713241/713311