Type 2 diabetes patients 'let down' by NI policy

By Marie-Louise Connolly
BBC News NI Health Correspondent

Image source, PA
Image caption,
There are two main types of diabetes, which causes a person's blood sugar level to become dangerously high

A group of people with type 2 diabetes feel let down by NI policy makers.

Last year the Department of Health outlined how to improve outcomes for people living with the condition.

A Department of Health spokesperson said the Diabetes Strategic Framework was developed to support those living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

But members of the group "Type-2 Action NI" feel neglected as the plan makes little reference to improving the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

They are calling for a review of strategic framework document to better address the needs of tens of thousands of people in NI living with type 2.

Diabetes causes a person's blood sugar level to become dangerously high: While people are often born with type 1, others develop type 2 later in life - often as a result of obesity and lack of exercise.

Type stigma

Speaking for the group, Billy McClure said they felt there was a stigma attached to type 2 diabetes which needs to be challenged.

"As people living with type 2 diabetes we are all too aware of the stigma which the disease has, where people see it as being our fault.

"We feel like we are being neglected, and that opportunities to improve the standard of care are being missed."

Image caption,
Campaigner Billy McClure said a stigma attached to type 2 diabetes needed to be challenged

"Many of the public health messages around obesity, diet and exercise do little to help those who already have the condition or complications of it.

"Yet they perpetuate the stigma that somehow it's our fault we have type 2 diabetes, ignoring important factors we can't control like our family history and ageing.

According to Diabetes UK, there are more than 100,000 people across NI with diabetes, and an estimated £1m is spent by the health service each day to treat people with the condition.

In 2015, 235 people in NI had to have limbs amputated because of the disease.

Image caption,
GP Dr Henry McKee said policy must reflect the majority of patients treated in GP surgeries

GP Dr Henry Mckee said it was crucial health policy reflects what is actually happening in communities: "It is really important because a majority of patients in Northern Ireland have type 2.

"The framework document is leaning quite heavily towards type 1 and we need to reflect the population as a whole.

"It needs to reflect the majority of patients and people we are seeing day in day out in GP surgeries."

Type 2 Action NI says the stigma around the disease needs to be addressed. The group is planning to run a series of public meetings across the region's five health trusts.

The Department of Health said the Diabetes Strategic Framework was a serious commitment to improve services for both those living with diabetes, and those at risk of developing the disease.

"The Framework is being implemented by a Northern Ireland wide Diabetes Network which comprises front-line staff as well as people living with diabetes," said a spokesperson.

"Priorities which will benefit people living with diabetes include improving access to diabetes-structured education, enhancing foot care and ensuring that technological advances are harnessed to improve long term outcomes.

"The Framework also emphasises the need to prevent type 2 diabetes."

Related Topics

More on this story