Radical action needed to tackle diabetes

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, questioned Nicola Sturgeon today on the need for radical action to tackle diabetes.

Mr Stewart is Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister and a long-time campaigner for solutions to the rapid rise in cases. A new study by Diabetes Scotland has highlighted the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Scotland has increased by 40% over a decade.

Mr Stewart, during First Minister’s Questions, said: “The First Minister will be well aware that Scotland has one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in Europe and it costs the NHS £1billion a year in avoidable complications. One in ten hospital bed days relates to diabetes.

“Does the First Minister share my view that we need radical and immediate action to reduce the long-term complications of diabetes, a condition that maims, blinds and kills?”

The First Minister replied that, in general terms, yes she did share the view.

She acknowledged Mr Stewart’s long-standing interest in diabetes and said that action was needed across a range of different areas, mentioning early access to the best treatment was important, as well as supporting people to see the condition reversed or managed without further complications.

“Prevention remains the most important focus in many respects,” she said, adding that in this parliamentary session the Restricting Foods Promotion Bill would be brought forward to help make sure people were supported to eat healthily.

Mr Stewart said afterwards that there was also more than 26,000 people in Scotland who were living with the condition who have yet to be diagnosed.

“It is a crisis and one that I have seen grow over the years,” he added.

“There must be more action from the Scottish Government to tackle the root cause, helping people to choose a healthier life style, healthier foods and to take more exercise.

“And, GPs, or indeed diabetes and practice nurses, should be able to offer screening earlier to patients who are most at risk, which is normally people over 45 who have a family history of diabetes and are overweight.

“Otherwise lives will continue to be blighted and people will continue to suffer the consequences.”

  • If type 2 diabetes goes untreated, the high blood sugar can affect various cells and organs in the body. Complications include kidney damage, often leading to dialysis, eye damage, which could result in blindness, or an increased risk for heart disease or stroke.