Interview with Barbara Young – Chief Exec of Diabetes UK

By | 20 February, 2012

Barbara Young, AKA Baroness Young of Old Scone, joined Diabetes UK in November 2010 and brings to the role a wealth of experience, having worked with the Institute of Health Services Management and having been a King’s Fund International Fellow. She is also a Trustee of the Imperial College Healthcare Charity and was instrumental in establishing the Care Quality Commission as Chairman.

Baroness Young, a young baroness

Baroness Young, a young baroness

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 ;

8 thoughts on “Interview with Barbara Young – Chief Exec of Diabetes UK

  1. brian

    ‘… particularly exciting as is work on the immunology of Type 1 diabetes which shows real promise of helping prevent the condition in the future.’

    Personally, I can never understand why a charity for peole with diabetes considers preventing diabetes is one of its aims. To me it shows confused thinking.

    Prevention is a public health matter that should be funded by public health fundings.

  2. Dave

    Thanks for doing that Tim.

    I have a follow up question to the statement of “Work on the artificial pancreas – in adults who are eating a large carb meal with some alcohol..” How do I get involved in this? This is the type of research I am very keen on being a part of.

    1. Alison

      Not sure how you get involved Dave, but all the UK based artificial pancreas work I’ve seen is based around the Cambridge hospitals, so I suspect being treated there would be a start – more detail on the DUK artificial pancreas work here and the focus of the JDRF funded work (same team, slightly different spin on it) here

      1. Dave

        Oh well. I’ll have to continue with my self-funded investigations on basal rates and food/beer by myself. Hey ho.

        1. Paul Buchanan

          I have loads of anecdotal data on big meals and loads of booze if it helps your studies Dave – happy to join the research team too!

          1. Alison

            Very generous, that would make you another contributor to the anecdotal study to create DAFNE’s much more fun younger brother DAVID – Drinking Alcohol, Varying Insulin Dosage. A very worthy cause.


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