Bradford beating diabetes through public awareness campaign

A major public awareness campaign on diabetes is being launched by clinical leaders in Bradford City this autumn.

Helping to prevent people developing diabetes in the first place; and making sure those people with diabetes are looking after themselves and getting the right care and support, are the key aims of Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) campaign.

With over 7,500 diabetic patients in the City area, and an additional 5,700 people at moderate or high risk of developing the most common form of diabetes (Type 2), the CCG is launching a campaign to prevent diabetes becoming an inevitable part of many people’s lives.

It will identify everyone in the City area who is at risk of developing diabetes in the future, and make sure they receive the appropriate advice, care and support to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, as well as help those who have diabetes to manage their condition and prevent serious complications.

Some people are more at risk of developing diabetes than others: those who have a family history of diabetes; are overweight or have a large waist size; are not physically active; and people who are south Asian or African Caribbean. But the onset of diabetes can be prevented or delayed if people are aware of how to look after their health and have access to the right support.

To be launched on 14 November – World Diabetes Day – the campaign will run until at least March 2015, split into two distinct phases.

In the first phase, people who have already been identified in the past 12 months as at moderate or high risk of developing diabetes will be sent a letter asking them to book an appointment with the healthcare assistant at their GP practice for a blood test.

This test will show if they are still at moderate or high risk, or have become diabetic. Depending on the results, they will be offered a range of help, advice or treatment to keep them well and prevent or delay the onset of diabetes or control their diabetes, if they have it, and prevent complications.

“Diabetes is on the rise locally as well as nationally - so it is one of our priority health challenges,” said Dr Adeel Iqbal, GP lead for long-term conditions at Bradford City CCG. “We want to prevent as many City patients as possible developing diabetes and to provide excellent care and advice to those who do have diabetes, so they stay well and in control of their condition.

“People often think that diabetes is just something that’s going to happen to them because of a family history of the condition or the fact that they know so many people who have it. We want this campaign to show that diabetes isn’t inevitable if more people knew how simple changes to their diet and lifestyle can reduce their risk.”

The campaign is starting with letters going to all those people who are already at moderate or high risk, so they come to their GP practice for another blood test to check their glucose levels – a key indicator of diabetes.

“Many patients will be able to go away with expert advice to reduce their chance of getting diabetes, while others at higher risk will be offered an intensive lifestyle change programme to support them to lose weight, get more active and eat a healthy diet. The most important thing is that people get tested so that they know their risk and can take action – it’s as simple as that,” added Dr Iqbal.

In the second phase the campaign will be broadened to continue to raise awareness of diabetes and let people know how they can reduce their risk of developing the condition through simple health and lifestyle changes.

Practices will invite all adults aged over 25 (if they are from South Asian and certain other BME groups) or if they are aged over 40 (and white) and any others with conditions known to increase their risk of developing diabetes. Using the Diabetes UK risk score tool to find out whether people are at low, moderate or high risk of developing diabetes, practices will then follow this up by offering appropriate advice and support.

For more information about diabetes, visit: www.diabetes.org.uk

Dr Akram Khan – diabetes case study

Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2007 came as a complete shock to Dr Akram Khan, clinical chair of Bradford City CCG and a Barkerend GP.

Despite knowing all the signs and symptoms of diabetes, he put his feelings of tiredness and generally being unwell down to working too hard, skipping meals and an unhealthy lifestyle.

His symptoms came on suddenly and it was a nurse at his practice who suggested he might have diabetes. She did a test, which confirmed the condition, and then made sure he went to his GP.

The diagnosis was a big wake-up call for Akram to look after his health and he soon started losing weight, walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift and cutting his portion sizes – all things that have helped him control his diabetes and stay fit and well.

“Diabetes really did come out of the blue for me,” said Akram. “I’d never been seriously ill, so even though I had some of the classic symptoms of diabetes they were too vague for me to think anything was wrong.

“Looking back, I only had symptoms for a couple of months so I hadn’t had previous tests for diabetes and didn’t know I was at such risk. This is why our campaign is relevant for so many people in City who do know they are at risk and have the chance to do something about it – hopefully to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

“I would urge everyone who receives a letter from their GP to book a blood test so they can find out if anything’s wrong and start taking steps to change their lifestyle and look after their health. I feel well now, my diabetes is under control and I have a far healthier lifestyle – it’s not been easy to change, but my family has really supported me and as a result we’re all eating less pizza and moving around a lot more!”