You’ve been in post just over a year now. What do you think is special about Diabetes UK and the work that it does?
Diabetes UK is special in lots of ways, but mostly because we try lots of things to make an impact on improving care for people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and helping people reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
We provide a big range of information, support and advice, we help people with diabetes get in touch with each other to share experiences, we campaign to get the NHS to improve services and we bring together healthcare professional and people with diabetes in one organisation that can really represent informed views on diabetes for the benefit of people with diabetes. We also have some pretty special staff who know lots and work hard!
After starting at Diabetes UK have you learnt anything about diabetes that has surprised you?
I have been an NHS groupie for 40 years (I know I don’t look that old – do I?), and I think lots of people even in the NHS are staggered when they learn how diabetes is rising, how serious a condition it can be and how difficult sometimes to live with day to day, how much of the NHS budget it represents.
Yet how much agreement there is about what services should look like. But still the NHS doesn’t seem to give diabetes the sort of priority that cancers and heart disease and stroke and dementia get. We are campaigning to get a fair deal and proper priority for diabetes services.
Balancing the needs of type one and type two diabetics is always a difficult job; how does Diabetes UK try to get the balance right?
You are right – it is difficult. We are increasingly trying to ensure that when we talk about diabetes that we clarify the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 and increasingly we want to tailor our support and communications more specifically to individuals depending on which type they have or are involved with. We are absolutely committed to doing a good job for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and indeed some of the other conditions like gestational diabetes.
Diabetes UK seems to spend a lot of time correcting inaccuracies in ;