Saturday, March 5, 2016

Scottish Sojourn

Conferences are always a variable feast and I suppose it depends why you go to conferences. Could be the pure educational aspect, could be the networking, could be the emulating or perhaps to escape from the daily routine of the work we do.
Diabetes UK annual professional conference has always been an event for me to attend for a mixture of all of the above and this year was no different...and after a few days, I walk away with a mixture of feelings..some positive, some worrying and some perhaps more of an individual reflection.
Tuesday was about coming to the meeting of the next generation...meeting a few future leaders and there were a fair few. There also was the feeling of them being a bit lost, caught between the need to improve diabetes care or to balance that with the struggles of general medicine. It was interesting but as ever, there were few who would own the stage and limelight I years to come, while a big portion would be perhaps invisible, work silently but try perhaps in their own way.
The nest few days were interesting, seeing a lot of old faces, always finding time for the ones you respect without batting an eyelid - such as Edwin Gale, David Mathews, Andrew Hattersley, Melanie Davis, Stephanie Amiel, Kamlesh Khunti- and always learning from them. Immense individuals who contribute so much to diabetes care and great teachers along the line for me.
Was good to see patient participation with familiar faces such as Laura and Mike while meeting folks from Twitter such as Andy, Kelly, Dani, Kris etc.-all individuals trying to help HCPs engage more..great work you all..and keep it going!
Meetings with Jonathan Valabhji and Chris Askew etc showed the willingness on part of many to try and help - committed folks trying to make a difference for folks with diabetes- and that has to be lauded. It gives me hope that things may indeed continue to move in the right direction.
Overall a good conference with some learnings to take back home

What about the negatives? Perhaps not a huge amount but was interesting to pick up on some of the disdain from Type 1 specialists about my "new found" love for Type 1 diabetes. Some of it was open, some veiled..what was I doing talking about the NICE Type 1 guidelines? As ever, the NHS amazes judgements on individuals based on not much was intriguing as well as mildly amusing too. Just for the sake of the doubters, I am interested in improving diabetes have focussed on model of care initially and now working on improving type 1 diabetes care and provision. If YOU can't do that in your role, then maybe best not to try and stop others trying the kids say..#justsaying
Think of this..if I as a professional get that response - what does a patient get for thought,eh?
I am no expert but as I said in my talk, no one actually is - apart from those who love with it- day in, day out. The rest? Specialists of variable levels of knowledge - at best.

Evenings were spent with friends and the family away from home -the diabetes team of Portsmouth - and fun times intermingled with learning opportunities. Most of the important bit which seemed to be gathering steam was the growing realisation amongst the community about relationships. Whether it be charities, HCP organisations or patients- if we want to improve care in this country, we must walk past our self created silos. If we can't, 10-15 years later, we will all turn back and think what if. And not only relationships amongst ourselves but the key one..that bit amongst the patients and us. I will say this again and this is my mantra of what I do. It isn't about the latest super insulin, it isn't about the flashy technology, it isn't about the "cloud", it isn't about Apps or offering education's only about one thing- YOUR ability as a professional to engage and communicate with the patient- move away from the "how's your blood sugars?" to "how are you"....till that day, we will not be able to improve outcomes- however much resource we magic up.

So to Chris Askew and the rest of Diabetes UK, thank you for getting the whole community together- it indeed was a lovely Scottish sojourn. Thank you to Paul Newman for asking me to be part of the event (wasn't that a fun session!?) Will we be able to come together and do what's needed? I don't know but personally, am willing to keep trying. It's time to unwind, it's time to relax a bit...but hey, next weekend is something special too- the first TAD event for folks with Type 1 diabetes.
New, quirky stuff to improve care? Ah yes, that's certainly me- knowledge or no knowledge about type 1 diabetes ;-)


  1. The haters gonna hate* as the kids sing these days, so don't worry about them just keep doing what you're doing, pushing the boundaries, trying new things and bringing patients and HCPs ever closer together. The only way care can work is for us all to be one team, not the old school battle of two different sides.

    *not my sort of music you understand

  2. This is an excellent website that you'll like Partha - Robin Youngson's book is brilliant:

    Best wishes,