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View from the chamber: Understanding ‘complex’ and ‘daunting’ scale of diabetes

PUBLISHED: 08:30 12 January 2019

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The International Diabetes Summit was recently held at parliament and we are all familiar with some of the frightening numbers around diabetes: more people than ever have diabetes and are at risk of Type 2 diabetes.

In Brent, the prevalence of diabetes is higher than the national average - recent estimates suggest that about 8.5 per cent of the population, or 25,000 people, have Type 2 diabetes.

If nothing changes, warns Diabetes UK, more than five million people will have the condition in the UK by 2025. Also, the costs to the NHS of treatment and care are rising.

So, how do elected members on scrutiny committees get to grips with understanding the situation, which can be daunting in scale and complex? Well, recently my committee head from those directly affected by the condition.

In Brent, there is a project called Diabetes Community Champions, run by the council’s public health team, which works to promote awareness about diabetes at the grassroots. It was absorbing to hear one of them describe her personal experience of being diagnosed with borderline Type 2 diabetes and how she works to share her knowledge of the condition.

At scrutiny, members are often told about “triangulation”. So, I would say that triangulation is more than just weighing different datasets, as important as they are. It is also about listening to people whose firsthand experiences make our understanding of a condition like diabetes real and tangible.

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