AT A GLANCE: Diabetes starts to rise up the political agenda

What’s going on?
Leading patient group Diabetes UK this month slammed cutbacks in NHS diabetes treatment as ‘shortsighted’ by highlighting the results of a spe­cially commissioned survey. Its res­earch suggested that service reduc­tions are putting patients’ health at risk.

How did Diabetes UK get the story out?
Media relations work was timed to coincide with the group’s annual pro­fessional conference in Glasgow, which attracted 3,000 medical profess­io­nals with diabetes specialisms. Trade publications which pic­ked up the story included Inde­pen­dent Nurse, Nursing Times, BMA News and Nur­sing Standard. Senior PRO Maria Lamb oversaw the report. She reports to Diabetes UK’s acting head of press Angela Style.

Does it have agency support?
This was a purely in-house operation, although new agency InHouse PR is continuing to handle interim media and public affairs work for the charity. The agency’s co-founder Katie Perrior is working on strategy around three projects for Diabetes UK this year.

With what did the charity back up its claims?
More than half of specialist diabetes nurses surveyed said they spent less time with patients and that there were increasing delays in seeing spe­cialists. One in three reported an inc­rease in hospital admissions, with one in four saying emergency admiss­ions – which could have been avoided if pat­ients had been able to see a spe­cialist – were up.

Does everyone agree with Diabetes UK?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Depar­t­ment of Health has its own slant on the state of diabetes treatment in the UK. In its own publication The Way Ahead: The Local Challenge, also out this month, it says that diagnosis of dia­betes is improving, and it wants the NHS ‘step up to the challenge’ of pro­viding individual care. The govern­ment highlighted local initiatives such as weight management programmes in Cleveland and screening vulnerable communities in Bradford.

What’s the scale of the problem?
Around two million people are known to have diabetes in the UK but esti­mates suggest another 750,000 people are undiagnosed. Around 90 per cent of sufferers have Type 2 diabetes, where the body cannot produce enough insulin (rather than no insulin at all, as in the much rarer Type 1).

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