Diabetes Week

Members' Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:15 pm on 10 June 2024.

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Photo of Stewart Dickson Stewart Dickson Alliance 12:15, 10 June 2024

I speak as chair of the all-party group (APG) on diabetes. While I am not diabetic, my wife has been a type 2 diabetic for many years. Today marks the start of Diabetes Week, the awareness week for people living with diabetes that is marked every year by Diabetes UK and people living with diabetes across the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, just under 115,000 people live with various types of diabetes. A further 73,000 people live with prediabetes in Northern Ireland. Diabetes is a serious and relentless condition that can cause other health problems if it is not picked up and monitored or treated in the early stages. Regular diabetic checks are vital.

For this year's Diabetes Week, let us shine a light on the health checks that everyone with diabetes needs. As part of their annual review, every diabetic should have a blood test to check their HbA1C for average blood sugar and cholesterol levels; a urine sample to check how well their kidneys are working; their weight and blood pressure measured; and help to stop smoking if that is applicable. Every two years, everyone with diabetes should have an eye and foot check. Frustratingly, with no national diabetic audit in Northern Ireland, it is difficult to assess how many people with diabetes in Northern Ireland receive all the health checks. That needs to change.

Today, at the beginning of Diabetes Week, I call on our Health Minister to add Northern Ireland to the national diabetic audit, so that we can avail ourselves of all the up-to-date statistics. As chair of the APG on diabetes, I call on everyone living with diabetes to take the opportunity to receive their health check when it is offered. If you do not think that you are getting the health checks that you need, please speak to your healthcare team or visit the Diabetes UK website for further information.