On Monday 26 April, Sir David Amess chaired the Westminster Health Forum webinar on diabetes. The forum’s speakers included consultants, leading experts in diabetes and diabetes charities and university professors. Sir David is the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Food and Health and so as a result, works closely with the health industry and his colleagues in Parliament.
Sir David Amess said:
I had the pleasure of chairing the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum on obesity in February and now I am here chairing this webinar on diabetes, which is important because the two health issues are linked. Any action to reduce obesity helps in tackling Type 2 diabetes as it is often related to being over-weight.
Diabetes is one of the critical issues we face in terms of the health of our nation and as we all know, the onset of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented but Type 1 diabetes is not related to lifestyle issues, and so cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes is estimated to account for over 90% of all diabetes cases in the United Kingdom and we should help these individuals live healthier, longer lives.
People with Type 2 diabetes are often very motivated to change their behaviour as the symptoms can be serious and irreversible. The NHS reports that people who have diabetes are 15 times more likely to undergo amputations. With over 22,000 additional deaths each year, Type 2 diabetes costs £10 billion every year to manage and therefore it is important that the Government, Public Health England, local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups work together on a local and national scale.
As the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Food and Health, it is the responsibility of the group to promote the understanding of food and health issues in Parliament, including advice on diet and nutrition. This most certainly includes diabetes. I have recently raised the importance of clear portion size labelling and promoting awareness of healthy portion sizes with the Department of Health and Social Care.
Helping those with diabetes live healthier lives is not just the responsibility of those individuals with the illness. Collaboration between the Government and policy makers, the public and private sector and health professionals is crucial for sharing information, undergoing research and promoting awareness of the ways in which a change in behaviour can improve health. With the current Coronavirus pandemic, other health issues can often be overlooked and that is why these forums are so important to discuss and raise awareness of diabetes whilst finding solutions and improving patient care and medical technology.
It is reassuring that our Government is recognising the importance of tackling diabetes. The Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care agreed a level playing field is important and said she wanted to “make it easy for everyone to be healthy”. I am encouraged that England was the first country to implement a Diabetes Prevention Programme at a nationwide scale. It is crucial we focus on accelerating the restoration of non-COVID-19 health services, such as advancing the Diabetes Prevention Programme.
I know that new treatments and technologies are being constantly created, which is why I welcome the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, which aims to keep patients safe while ensuring they have the earliest possible access to new drugs and technologies. Prevention, good management and patient education are key to reducing complications of diabetes and I look forward to hearing from consultants, academics and industry experts in this forum.