NHS staff are gearing up to offer free diabetes risk assessments to the public.

An awareness event has been organised at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, as part of world diabetes day on Friday November 14.

Health advisors at the hospital will be on hand inside the main foyer from 9.30am to 12.30pm, to offer advice and guidance to patients and visitors.

Mrs Poonam Bagga, consultant ophthalmologist with an interest in diabetic retinopathy at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Diabetes is the commonest cause of vision impairment in those aged 20 to 65. There are around 20,000 people living with diabetes across Grimsby and Scunthorpe.

“If we want to see a reduction in the amount of people having complications due to diabetes, then we require people to improve self-management of the condition. This will only happen with increased awareness of the risks and better understanding of why people need to change their lifestyle.”

During the morning of events, a diabetes collaborative group from Care Plus will be carrying out risk assessments with individuals, measuring their waist, looking at their family history and ethnicity. A diabetes nurse specialist will provide information and advice on lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and gentle exercise and students from Hull and York Medical School will be in attendance to help out on the awareness stall.

In addition, North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group is launching a self-help diabetes guide. It will provide comprehensive up-to-date information with help and advice for diabetic patients and their friends and family.

The guide has been developed in conjunction with a group of patients and will be available through patients’ GP practices.

Dr Arun Nayyar, North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group clinical lead for planned care, said: “Diabetes is a growing public health threat, but people can live long and full lives if the condition is managed properly.

“The introduction of our self-help guide is a wonderful initiative as it allows people to become more knowledgeable about their condition and empowered to make the necessary healthy lifestyle changes essential to managing the disease and improving their quality of life.”

Diabetes case study

Mike Pearce, of Grimsby, is very much an advocate of self-help in that his health is his responsibility with the medical profession there to offer help, advice, support and treatment where necessary.

Mike’s family has a history of Type 2 diabetes with his mother, grandmother and uncle all having to have limbs amputated as a result of the condition. His sister, seven years younger, is also on medication to treat the early stages of diabetes.

In 1979 after visiting his doctor to discuss his health and family history Mike was given a glucose tolerance test. The results showed that Mike had, what was then referred to as, ‘latent diabetes’.

Mike said: “I was shocked as I knew what can happen to people with uncontrolled diabetes. I was shown a video and sent to a dietician for guidance. Both were good but not enough for me and so I made a thorough study of the subject to not only get a better understanding of the condition but to know what changes I had to make to manage the condition.

“Initially I went on a very strict diet avoiding carbohydrates, in particular sugar. I then moderated this for complex carbohydrates developing a diet and lifestyle that helped to control my condition.

“I do a fasting blood sugar test every 10 days and have my HbA1c level measured every year. I believe that I am no nearer to becoming a diabetic than I was 35 years ago and am certain the lifestyles changes I adopted all those years ago are responsible for stopping, or at least delaying the onset of diabetes which has ultimately improved my quality of life and that of my family.”