When Panorama Tackled Type 2 Diabetes

11/10/2016 15:44

Last week's BBC Panorama special 'Diabetes - The Hidden Killer' split opinions in the diabetes community, with the full range of response shared on social media from, 'I liked the programme, its production and its message' to 'how about a bit of balance ... stop scaring, start educating'.

Certainly, the show generated a lot of interest predominantly around Type 2 diabetes. Our website here at Diabetes UK saw the second highest number of hits ever in a 24 hour period, with 15,000 visits between 8pm and 10pm alone, and our Helpline was especially busy the next day.

Whilst the documentary took a selective, hard-hitting view of its topic, what it covered were undeniably 'the facts on the ground' of day to day diabetes practice at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital. Facts which millions of people in our country - many of whom are, or may be, at risk of Type 2 diabetes - may well not have been aware of and facts which underpin the importance of much of the work we do, in partnership with others.

Facts which, in their telling, can alarm, scare and distress; as well as persuade those who hold the purse strings or who commission services to continue to prioritise best possible care and support in all cases of diabetes.

Most of the thousands of people who have contacted us after watching the documentary want more facts and advice, on signs and symptoms, on lowering risk of Type 2 and on what causes different types of diabetes.

For us, it is proving to be a good opportunity to spread understanding, to diminish ignorance or misunderstanding, to provide support where it is needed or sought, to keep up the case for the best possible care and support and to bring new focus to the importance of research.

So, I welcome the Panorama show, for bringing a new and renewed awareness to one of the most important health issues of our time. Such broadcasts will, of course, never tell the full story and it is for those of us who provide support of any kind -- whether in the clinic or research lab, through the online community, through providing helplines and online resources, through peer to peer support in our communities - to continue to provide the facts and the support to ensure we all have the knowledge and help we need.

We should also reflect on the truly panoramic picture in diabetes, in which there is much to be positive about, whether that is the recent news of an additional £40million of funding for improving diabetes care in England or developments in the Unites States in the provision of what is being called 'the artificial pancreas'.

Each and every day at Diabetes UK I hear about the achievements of clinicians, patient advocates, diabetes specialist nurses, people living with diabetes, researchers, fundraisers and supporters - who are all winning through in meeting the challenges in diabetes.