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Never ‘underestimate’ DSNs says chief nurse at type 1 event

By Editor
24th April 2017
Type 1 diabetes

The role of diabetes specialist nurses was trumpeted by England’s chief nurse at a special conference staged to empower people with type 1 diabetes.

The second annual Talking About Diabetes (TAD) conference took place on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Birkbeck College, London.

Professor Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer for England, told more than 200 delegates: “The role of clinical nurse specialists in helping people live with diabetes should never be underestimated.”

You need to make diabetes your friend not your enemy, if you fight against your pancreas then you will lose, Sky journalist Stephen Dixon who has type 1 diabetes

Professor Cummings, who has type 1 diabetes, also revealed that has not let the condition define her, adding: “I have never wanted to be Jane the diabetic nurse.”

The event was organised by a team of diabetes consultants, including Dr Partha Kar – the associate national clinical director for diabetes who also works at Portsmouth Hospitals – Dr Catherine Peters from Great Ormond Street Hospital and Professor Peter Hindmarsh, of University College Hospital.

This year there was a special TADPole mini event where 20 young people aged between eight and 12 quizzed the some of the speakers and also took part in a sports session led by speaker Gavin Griffiths, with tips about how to manage blood glucose levels during sport.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director at NHS England, also addressed the audience. He said: “I know you hear a lot about sugary type 2 diabetes and sugary drinks but don’t for one minute think we don’t understand about type 1 diabetes.”

He said that NHS England “takes type 1 diabetes really seriously” and urged people with the condition to speak up about ideas to improve care.

Sky News presenter Stephen Dixon, who has had type 1 for 25 years, hosted the event and told the audience: “You need to make diabetes your friend not your enemy, if you fight against your pancreas then you will lose.”

Blogger Jen Greaves, who is @MissJenGrieves on Twitter, writes about life with type 1 diabetes at and was one of the six speakers.

The BBC Radio 1 journalist urged people with type 1 diabetes to learn to accept the condition and not be defined by it.

She said: “As long as you are giving it a go there is no perfect way of handling type 1 diabetes, you really need to tell yourself that you are doing OK, more than OK because you really are. You can’t control the diagnosis of diabetes but you can control what you do afterwards.”

Gavin Griffiths who, despite struggling with his diagnosis as a child, has gone onto complete more than 70 endurance fitness challenges to raise money for the condition, also spoke.

Runner Gavin Griffiths speaking at TAD 2017

Known as @Diathlete on Twitter, Gavin talked about coming to terms with type 1 diabetes and harnessing the power of controlling the condition.

He told of his challenges, including running 30 miles every day for 30 days from Land’s End to John O’ Groats to raise money for diabetes

Gavin said: “With great responsibility for your health and your diabetes management comes a great power to go and achieve anything you like.”

Teacher Adrian Long, who is @AdrianLong3 on Twitter, told how his type 1 diabetes diagnosis came like a bolt out of the blue when he was aged 40.

He said: “I only spoke to 1 person with diabetes in first 16 years since diagnosis but then a little blue bird came along.”

Fellow speaker Roddy Riddle, who is @RoddyRiddle on Twitter, is a former international road cyclist and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 40. Since getting the condition, he has been raising awareness of type 1 diabetes and inspiring people to take more control of their condition so they can “lead a life without limits”.

Speaker Adrian Long talking about the impact of social media

In March Riddy completed the 6633 Ultra, the toughest, coldest and windiest extreme ultra marathon on the planet over 352 miles across the Arctic Circle.

International sprinter Mel Stephenson, whose Twitter alias is @Melstephenson0, has type 1 diabetes and also spoke.

She said: “A lot of the qualities needed for success in diabetes are the same in sport. You can still achieve your goals despite having diabetes.”

Thomas Raeymaekers is former professional cyclist with Team Novo Nordisk who now coach the junior team. He answered questions at the event.

He said: “When I was diagnosed, my doctor told me to stop racing but that day I saw what was to become Team Novo Nordisk on TV and saw that they had diabetes but were professional cyclists.

“If you have to remember one thing from today, don’t let diabetes stop you.”

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