I spent a lovely Saturday evening in a pub in Edinburgh with some of our readers. Amongst other things we chatted about local diabetes care.
Tim has a letter from the Chief Executive of NHS Lothian telling him that they deliver the best diabetes care in Scotland. Marvellous. When they deliver diabetes care that meets all the national guidelines they can have a gold star. Until then, being the best of a bad lot isn’t something to celebrate.
Around the table in the pub were three people on an 18 month pump waiting list, people who hadn’t even been on a DAFNE course, and a terrifying anecdote I really hope isn’t true about there being an 11 year wait for access to DAFNE training in Glasgow. An eleven year wait for basic education to help you live with a serious chronic disease? It’d surely be easier just to chop off your own feet immediately and give up.
I travelled home on Sunday night pondering what could be done to improve the situation. I’m a big fan of the NHS but it works best when people like us drive it to deliver. I’m hoping those people sat around the table on Saturday night will be going to speak to their NHS healthcare funders to encourage them to start delivering.
Then, like an apparition, I saw this on the interweb “New Edinburgh diabetes lab brings promise” . Aha I thought, they’ve cracked it. They’ve worked out how to deliver excellent diabetes services at an affordable cost to the Scottish masses. Soon my fellow drinkers will be accessing excellent care rather than whiling away their years on waiting lists.
This doesn’t happen often, but I was wrong. Edinburgh is getting a new lab to provide “revolutionary diabetes treatment for sufferers of type 1”. This life changing place will be the Scottish Islet Isolation Laboratory.
Marvellous stuff. I’ve nothing against progress and I’m sure one day islets may/may not deliver some/lots of benefit to some/all of us living with diabetes.
I do wonder though what makes you prioritise something like a new islet cell lab over delivering great healthcare to people struggling to live with diabetes today? Would it be cynical of me to suggest that islets are just a little bit sexier than delivering basic education and healthcare? That perhaps “I cured diabetes” looks better on your CV than “I helped Rachel manage her HbA1c and live a long, healthy life”?
Of course we need investment in future treatments for diabetes, but we also need to quickly and effectively use the proven treatments we already have. Forgive me if I’m not bouncing off the walls with excitement over this new lab. I may be dull but seeing people being given the help they need today to live long, healthy, happy lives with diabetes is what really floats my boat.