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Simplifying diabetes

How many of you saw the programme on BBC 1 from Manchester, where more than 300 people were invited in for free and simple health screening? A number of the participants were surprised at the findings. Whether or not you saw this programme, you will not be surprised to know that type 2 diabetes was one of the conditions. Dr Phil Hammond used some extremely innovative activities to help some of the celebrities being screened to understand these conditions better; hopefully it was also useful to many watching at home.

Later this month, starting 23rd September, Diabetes UK are running a huge awareness campaign for type 2 diabetes, which will be centred around Tesco supermarkets. The campaign will run for two weeks and be visible all over the UK through differing media forms. They are aiming to target those areas of the country, which have large numbers of people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Tesco are now working in partnership with Diabetes UK, both in raising awareness of diabetes and also providing funding for research.

As part of the primary care team, we need to know about such events, as they may trigger enquiries from more patients, or an interest in being screened for type 2 diabetes. Let's be prepared for this, and be ready to deal with questions people may have, and have printed information available for them to take away and read at their leisure.

Diabetes UK publishes a wide range of patient resources for us to supply to our patients and they can be ordered on line. They provide a range of leaflets free of charge, although of course some do have a cost. They are continually updating the materials they produce, so it is worth having a look at their online shop to see what they have that may be relevant and useful for your patients or yourself

On a different subject, Dapagliflozin, one of a new class of drugs for treatment of type 2 diabetes, has now been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for use alongside Metformin or alternatively for use with insulin. This guidance was issued towards the end of June this year and the drug is now on our local drug formulary in Portsmouth. As yet I have not prescribed Dapagliflozin for any of my patients, but following discussion with a diabetes consultant from the local diabetes centre, I can envisage several patients where it could be useful. From the patients' perspective, the big attraction will probably be the likelihood of weight loss from taking this drug, despite the risk of local infections in the genital organs.

I found it so refreshing to speak recently to one of my patients with Type 2 Diabetes, who I had misjudged. For some months, I had been sending him letters inviting him to attend for his annual review, without any response. It would appear that as he was living in a shared house, others must have been throwing away these letters, so that he had never seen any of them. Thankfully a receptionist spotted him in the waiting room one day last week and pointed me in his direction. How wrong I had been about him, just because he hadn't responded to those letters.

Some years earlier this man had quit smoking and consequently gained a huge amount of weight. When he was later diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he took himself in hand; by walking every day and adjusting his eating, he was able to lose 7 stone in weight. Now, in order to keep his weight under control and his diabetes, he walks briskly for at least one hour every day and eats small but regular meals. Being out of work at the moment means he has limited finance, so his diet is not all it should be, but he has asked for help to eat more healthily on a low income.

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