Local organisations were brought together this week to discuss how best to help improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of diabetes in Wiltshire.
The fourth Wiltshire Council-led diabetes summit provided an opportunity for local organisations to meet and reflect on progress over the last year and to determine the way forward.
While type 1 diabetes often develops in people under 40 and is not preventable, 90% of diabetes is type 2 and in many cases may be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle.
In Wiltshire there are an estimated 6,000 people who have type 2 diabetes but do not know it. Wiltshire Council is working with its partner organisations to reduce the number of people suffering from the preventable condition
Earlier in the year the council, together with Diabetes UK, put on roadshows up and down the county to raise awareness of the condition and to offer residents a free type 2 risk assessment. More than half of those who attended the roadshows were referred to their local GP practice.
Men are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if their waist circumference is more than 37 inches and for women if their waist circumference is more than 31.5 inches. Early diagnosis, treatment and good control of diabetes is essential to reduce the chances of developing complications and to improve people’s chances of living a long and healthy life.
Another way to prevent people from getting the condition is for those eligible to take up the offer of a free NHS Health Check. As well as type 2 diabetes, the free health check can also help reduce the chances of someone getting heart disease, kidney disease and dementia. Everyone between the ages of 40 and 74, who has not already been diagnosed with one of these conditions or is otherwise ineligible, is invited every five years to have a free NHS Health Check.
Maggie Rae, Wiltshire Council corporate director said: “This summit was a welcome opportunity for colleagues to meet and to plan how we support people with both types of diabetes as effectively as possible, and to improve the prevention of developing type 2 diabetes.
“We have made good progress in the last year and we will continue to work together and ensure it continues.”
Keith Humphries, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Public Health, who also chaired the summit said “We had a good turnout at the summit which demonstrates to me there is a collective commitment to work together to tackle this issue.
“There was lots of good discussion and many ideas generated for us to take forward.”
Dr Andrew Girdher, spokesperson for Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and GP in Box, comments: “Type 2 diabetes is in most cases entirely preventable. Early diagnosis means that there is every chance that the symptoms can be managed without the need for medication.
“Making the right lifestyle choices is so important. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly helps to reduce your chance of developing the disease.
“The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are relatively mild and progress over time, making it difficult to spot. However, if you have noticed that you need to urinate more frequently, are increasingly thirsty, very tired or have blurred vision it is advisable to make an appointment to see your GP.
“The important thing to note if you do have diabetes is to make sure that you look after yourself and attend your various appointments with healthcare professionals. Attending a diabetes course could also help you manage your condition.”