One of the many advantages to being a member of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the opportunity to attend member only lectures given by hospital staff on areas of their expertise. Guests can be accommodated but after hearing what is on offer they need little inducement to become members in their own right. The subjects are largely chosen by Trust members, reflecting their interests or concerns.
Such an opportunity occurred on Wednesday 4 April when over 60 Trust members heard about the Diabetes Services at Ashford and St Peter’s hospitals. Those presenting had taken time from their busy schedules and the meeting was held in the new facility of Chertsey House which provides the Trust with purpose built meeting rooms.
Dr Naqvi, Consultant Diabetes Physician, spoke to the audience about the history of diabetes and put the disease in a global context. The incidence of diabetes is growing, not only in this country but worldwide. Members learnt about developments in diagnosing and treating diabetes and the impact of the discovery of insulin.
The audience heard that diabetes is a common condition with two million people diagnosed in the UK plus approximately one million as yet undiagnosed. The differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were explained; 10% of those diagnosed have Type 1 as opposed to 90% having Type 2. The latter is age-related, mainly affecting persons over 65 years, however with the emergence of childhood obesity patients with Type 2 diabetes are being identified at an earlier age. Diagnosis and symptoms were explained including the consequences of high and low blood glucose levels.
What is central to managing Type 2 diabetes is the importance of lifestyle; diet, weight control and exercise. This was a recurring theme throughout all the lectures.
St Peter’s is fortunate to have the Stephanie Marks Diabetes Resource Centre which was opened in May 2010 staffed by experts offering specialist clinics and information for patients. Patients can also take part in structured education programmes. Referral is via GPs and consultants. The aim is for the Centre to become a ‘hub’ for information about diabetes via its developing website and its service provision. There is a great deal of misinformation about diabetes but the website will direct people to reputable sites.
Julie Fleming, Specialist Diabetes Dietician, highlighted the importance of a healthy balanced diet. She explained that she offers advice about portion sizes, fat content and the need for exercise. She works by negotiating realistic goals whilst recognising that lifestyle changes can be hard. Lyndsey Ritchie, Diabetes Specialist Podiatrist, emphasised the importance of annual foot checks for people with diabetes as one of the complications is loss of sensation. Pictures of foot ulceration drew gasps from the audience but served to drive home the message. Advice about footwear, however, caused some consternation to members of the audience as wearing high heels is not recommended! Jo McBride and Tracey Bushell, assisted by Rosie Marks, detailed the education programmes available to people with diabetes including STEPH (St Peter’s Type 1 Education Programme for Health). These courses offer advice, allowing patients to share experiences and to make informed decisions about their condition.
In conclusion Dr Helen Ward took questions from the audience, clarifying information given and talking about new international standards of measuring patients’ long term blood glucose control. She also reassured the audience about Virgin Care which will enhance current provision by investing in technology and supporting remote access.
The session was deemed really worthwhile by the audience, who had learnt a great deal. They were able to see what is available in the Trust and also met experts in the field whose commitment, teamwork and enthusiasm for their roles shone through.
Margaret Lenton, Governor for Windsor & Maidenhead