MP addresses Westminster diabetes debate

Steve Brine spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on diabetes on Tuesday 8th January. The Winchester & Chandler’s Ford MP is also the Public Health Minister, and he responded to Sir John Hayes MP’s debate on behalf of the Government.

Sir John opened the debate by talking about his own personal experience with diabetes, and how it is a disease which affects so many households across the UK.

He said: “Every day, our constituents—people across Britain—are tested by the challenges that are the effects of diabetes, which is the fastest growing health crisis of our time. There is barely a family in Britain that has not been touched by it. As so many elderly ladies do, my late mother contracted type 2 diabetes when she reached her 70s.”

The debate heard from a range of speakers, including Andrew Sealous, George Howarth, Martyn Day and James Duddridge, and discussed what the NHS and Government are doing to combat this disease, amongst a broader debate about many issues related to diabetes. It followed Mondays’ announced Long Term NHS plan by the Department of Health.

Steve Brine told the House that diabetes features prominently in the plan and that the Chief Executive of Diabetes UK had welcomed the sections within it that covered diabetes.

He said: “This is a timely debate. We published the long-term plan for the NHS on Monday. Diabetes features prominently in the plan, which is no accident. We would expect it to, and if it did not, we would have a debate on why not. However, more than that, the plan has a strong focus on prevention and on building a health service for the needs of the 21st century that supports people to manage their own health—not only for diabetes but across the piece—and wellbeing.”

“I, too, pay tribute to the NHS staff, to the diabetes nurses and the doctors, but also to the support groups. My constituency has the Winchester and Eastleigh diabetes support group, which I spoke to recently. We will all have those groups in our constituencies. As MPs, we are very used to having in front of us people who are far more expert on the subject that they have come to talk to us about than we are—every single one of my constituency surgeries is an example of that—but never is it more true than when we talk to people with diabetes, who have a great and expert knowledge of their condition and the management of it.”

“Wherever possible, the aim is of course to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place, which is emphasised in the NHS long-term plan. I am very pleased that NHS England and Public Health England, for which I have responsibility, and Diabetes UK, working hand in glove, have had great success in working on what is the first diabetes prevention programme to be delivered at scale nationwide anywhere in the world.

“In 2018-19, the diabetes prevention programme achieved full national roll-out, making England the first country in the world to achieve full geographical coverage. That is a great achievement, and the figures are good. As set out in the long-term plan, NHS England intends to double the capacity of the programme up to 200,000 people per annum by 2023-24

Closing the debate, he defended the Government’s record on diabetes to date, but added that there is always more that can done: “I hope that the Government and I, as the Public Health Minister, have shown our commitment to improving outcomes for people with diabetes and living with it through treatment, but also to helping to prevent people from developing it in the first place. Our constituents demand that from us, and our health service, if we believe in it as a publicly funded, free at the point of use health service, which we do, needs us to deliver us on that, and we will.”

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