Leicester's work welcomed at diabetes summit

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Attendees at a major diabetes meeting welcomes the work that has been carried out by the Leicester Changing Diabetes team.

The International Diabetes Summit brought together high-level representatives from around the UK and the world to discuss diabetes. 

The conference organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes was held on Thursday, December 13, at the House of Commons.

Speakers shared knowledge and best practice, while delegates learned from other countries. There was also a series of presentations about the Cities Changing Diabetes international programme to tackle urban diabetes.

Sophie O’Connell, Project Manager from the Leicester team, said the programme had committed to staging monthly screening events, with 250 people identified so far as being at high risk of type 2 diabetes since the programme launched six months ago.

Links with faith centres and minority communities have been harnessed to shape the programme, while the power of sport has been used to engage and promote physical activity, including rolling out weekly Walking Cricket sessions.

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Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Co-Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, summarised by saying: “We are learning from other cities and we will continue to learn, but other cities will want to learn from us. We hope this initiative will leave a legacy where we flatten the type 2 diabetes curve.”

Government challenge

Steve Brine MP, Minister for Public Health and Primary Care with responsibility for diabetes, addressed the delegates before the discussion panels. He said: “We all know that diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing this country. The numbers are startling, over three million people in England have diabetes, it’s estimated one million more are undiagnosed, so we are not evening beginning to help them. If nothing changes by 2025, more than five million will have diabetes.”

The politician went on to describe the government’s attempts to improve diabetes care, highlighting the sugar tax, which he said had led to a reduction of 45 million kilograms in sugar in fizzy drinks.

Reducing variation of care, improving access to technology and preventing type 2 diabetes were Department of Health priorities, with the government investing an extra £80 million over the last two years to improve diabetes care, the minister said.

Discussing the National Diabetes Prevention Programme, he said 280,000 people had been referred to the initiative as of September.

Sharing innovation

During the ‘Diabetes Best Practices and Innovation’ session, chair and Leicester GP, Dr Domine McConnell talked about the Leicester Diabetes Village, a “one-stop shop” for diabetes care which MP Keith Vaz is working to achieve.

Speaker Dr Partha Kar discussed the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme which has involved visiting hospitals to find examples of good practice. He highlighted Derby and Leicester hospitals as shining examples, while praising Southampton for its use of a diabetes consultant pharmacist. Dr Kar also applauded Imperial and Sunderland for footcare and Colchester for having the “best example of integrated care”.

Delegates went on to hear about the 17-fold increase in diabetes in China over 30 years during the ‘An International Perspective on Diabetes’ discussion. Speaking during the panel, Dr Manoj Bharucha, a Gastrointestinal and Metabolic Surgeon from India, advocated bariatric surgery to tackle type 2 diabetes. 

He said: “Let’s put away the pills needles and pick up the scalpel.” He said bariatric surgery was achieving “remarkable outcomes”, with 53 per cent of his 5,000 patients reversing their type 2 diabetes within five years.

Founder of Diabetes Professional Care Maggie Meer chaired the ‘Preventing Diabetes’ panel, starting off the discussion by saying: “Earlier it was said ‘let’s put away the pills and needles and get out your scalpels’, well I say let’s put them all away and focus on prevention – prevention is key.”

Keynote speaker Sisse Marie Welling, Health Mayor of Copenhagen, spoke about the city’s strategy to prevent type 2 diabetes, which included cleaning the water in the harbour to enable people to swim and also gearing up the infrastructure for cyclists.

Closing the conference, Keith Vaz MP said: “It’s an honour to be able to hear from so many experts from across the world.”

Fiona Bailey