The Big Interview – Martin Hirst
Martin Hirst is the chief executive of the InDependent Diabetes Trust, a charity working to support people with diabetes.
What are IDDT’s priorities for 2017?
To continue to target teachers to support children with diabetes in schools following on from our ‘What Schools Need to Know’ leaflet launched in 2016 and the ‘Parents Passport for Schools’ published in 2015.
To continue to support people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
What has been your biggest achievement for IDDT?
Broadening the focus of the charity to include people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin, not just those that are insulin dependent.
The charity is strongly associated with animal insulin, can you explain the background?
With the introduction of ‘human’ insulin twenty years ago, many people were transferred wholesale onto the new insulin. It was found that there was a small but significant number of people who could not tolerate the new insulins. IDDT was formed to ensure the continued availability of animal insulin and campaign for the freedom of choice of treatment.
The charity is independent and proud of its heritage, but where does the funding come from?
The charity is funded entirely by voluntary donation. A large proportion of our income comes from gifts in people’s wills.
What are the biggest challenges facing your members?
Managing the condition on a day-to-day basis in the immediate term but also bigger issues such as access to structured education programmes.
How is the charity supporting and helping people with diabetes?
We operate a helpline and also provide a wide range of free information booklets about various aspects of living with diabetes. We publish quarterly newsletters for our members to ensure they are aware of the latest news and developments.
What would you do if your budget was doubled?
To develop our own structured education programme and promote it in different geographical areas. We stage a bi-annual conference for our members which is always popular, if we had more funding we would turn it into an annual event.
How does the charity work with healthcare professionals to improve care?
We exhibit at a range of healthcare professional events and conferences to promote the resources we produce to them to show how they can use these resources to support their patients.
What would your one message to healthcare professionals be?
Make the use of the resources we have to support you to support your patients. We also offer a healthcare professional membership package, which includes a wide range of resources, for a small fee.
What is the future of diabetes care?
Early, effective diagnosis and treatment to prevent complications, access to appropriate education and support to help people manage their diabetes effectively.