More talk than action on health care
HEALTH champion Diane Munday has voiced her concern about care of diabetes being handed over to GPs. Mrs Munday, who lives in Wheathampstead, was responding to last week s front-page story in the Herts Advertiser reporting that the diabetes clinic at St A
HEALTH champion Diane Munday has voiced her concern about care of diabetes being handed over to GPs.
Mrs Munday, who lives in Wheathampstead, was responding to last week's front-page story in the Herts Advertiser reporting that the diabetes clinic at St Albans City Hospital was running short-staffed and without sufficient funding for the patients who used it.
The situation came to light after a patient from St Albans had his annual appointment put back four times between January and July.
A diabetes sufferer herself who has served on numerous local, national and international committees and groups intended to improve diabetes patient care, Mrs Munday has had her annual hospital diabetes check-up postponed - despite the fact that all the relevant authorities lay down that an annual diabetes check is the minimum needed to keep people healthy.
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She is particularly concerned that the local Primary Care Trust, which funds patients using the diabetes clinic, suggests that many could use their GPs for follow-up appointments.
She said: "To hand patients over to the care of these doctors, many of whom have expressed their concern about being expected to provide this additional service in order to save money, is not in the best interests of patients or, in the long term, of health service budgets."
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She explained that there was a lot of current research about diabetes which was resulting in new drugs, treatments and regimes being introduced all the time. She went on: "General practitioners cannot possibly keep up with all the developments in every medical speciality so handing patients with particular needs over to their care is not beneficial."
She also questioned why diabetes patients had no choice about where they had their regular blood tests if their GP surgery was unable to do it. Patients, many of them elderly, had to go to their local hospital which got so busy that they tended to try to get there early in the morning after starving themselves overnight. All too frequently that involved the use of public transport at a busy time in the morning.
Mrs Munday is particularly frustrated about the failure of the various committees, groups and working parties into diabetes care to make any useful decisions despite the time given over by highly-paid professionals and the mass of words and papers they take up.
She cited one particular example a couple of years ago when the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) set up meetings to devise new pathways for diabetes care.
At the first meeting around 60 people were present including five or six consultants, a number of GPs, specialist diabetes nurses, podiatrists, dieticians, psychologists and heads of various departments.
The meeting was given over to a lot of talk about ways forward, the setting up of sub-committees and arranging several more meetings of the main group. But then the SHA was disbanded and nothing more ever came of it.
Mrs Munday said she was particularly concerned that the PCT was planning another review into the diabetes service and questioned its commitment to patients receiving care as locally as possible.
She maintained that during the past 20 years, the local service to people with diabetes had deteriorated while the number of meetings, new pathways and consultations had flourished.
She added: "Perhaps that is where we should be looking to save some money to use for direct patient care.