Friday the 14th November was World Diabetes Day, which was set up by Diabetes UK to encourage everyone across the world to unite and take action to tackle diabetes.

I have a personal interest in diabetes, having a strong family history of it.

Diabetes is a common lifelong health condition, where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is a risk factor that you can’t do anything about (after all, you can’t chose your genetic mum and dad!), however there are plenty things that we can do to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or if the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1, which occurs when the body doesn’t produce any insulin at all. In the UK, about 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.

So what can we all do to stop ourselves becoming a diabetic statistic?

It is really, really simple: we exercise, we control our weight, we don’t drink too much alcohol and we eat the right foods.

So why is it that we are seeing a rise in the incidence of diabetes? (It is predicted that there will 4.6 million diabetics in the UK by 2030.)

The answer is clearly much more complicated than I have told you. But is it? Or are we just not listening to the messages that we are being given? Personally, I think it is the latter.

The easy option is to carry on as we are and to face the future by burying our heads in the sand in the hope that it will never happen. Sadly, it will happen to many of us unless we do something now.

The main risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is being overweight and this is where we all need to take personal responsibility.

Interestingly there was a report on the radio this morning (20 November), and in the news, stating that obesity is currently costing this country £47 billion a year: a staggering amount of money.

When the Five Year Forward View was announced in October this year, the chief executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, told us that, if we carry on as we are, by 2021 NHS funding faces a shortfall of £30 billion.

So, to me it’s a no brainer: we all need to control our weight. Not only will we be healthier but we’ll be wealthier as well.

I’m off for a game of tennis.


European Antibiotic Awareness Day

Tuesday 18 November is European Antibiotic Awareness Day and Wiltshire CCG is taking part.

As a leader in providing and commissioning healthcare to the people of Wiltshire, the CCG is aware that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major public health issue and a threat to the future of healthcare.

The European Antibiotic Awareness Day is a public health initiative that takes place each year to raise awareness about the threat of antibiotic resistance and promote prudent antibiotic use.

The main objectives of this are to:

  • Educate, inform and engage patients and healthcare professionals about the appropriate use of antibiotics and reduce the expectation that antibiotics will be prescribed to treat colds, coughs and sore throats
  • Motivate healthcare professionals to prescribe antibiotics more appropriately
  • Educate, inform and engage patients and healthcare professionals about the importance of preventing resistance to antibiotics
  • Reinforce awareness of this problem as a wider international issue by promoting European Antibiotic Awareness Day
  • Align key messages and activities with the objectives of the UK Five-Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013-18

The target audience is:

  • Frontline prescribing healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care, including GPs, hospital doctors, pharmacists and nurses
  • Patients and the general public
  • Parents of young children
  • Children

Prudent use of antibiotics can help stop resistant bacteria from developing and help keep antibiotics effective for the use of future generations.

This campaign aims to reduce the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which is leading to many bacteria becoming resistant to these essential medicines. Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today.

Antibiotics have dramatically reduced the number of deaths from infections and infectious diseases since they were introduced 70 years ago; we need them to continue this important role in treating serious illness and helping to prevent early deaths.

They are now a vital tool for modern medicine and we also need them to avoid infections during today’s cancer treatments, caesarean sections and many surgeries.

In Europe alone 25,000 people already die each year because of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

What Wiltshire CCG is doing

We have employed Infection Prevention and Control Specialist Nurses to help in the fight against the spread of antibiotic resistant infections.  We have also made a pledge to be an antibiotic guardian, striving to stop the overuse and misuse of antibiotics that is leading to many bacteria becoming resistant to these essential medicines.

Our Medicines Management Team work closely with primary care providers to monitor prescribing and promote prudent use of antibiotic and our Quality Team has introduced CQUINs (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation) around antibiotic prescribing and stewardship.

Wiltshire CCG is calling on all prescribers to become antibiotic guardians and help slow resistance to antibiotics by not prescribing them unless absolutely necessary.

Antibiotic Guardian website

Antibiotic Guardian video

Downloadable materials

Get Better Without Antibiotics leaflet
When should I worry? booklet

Air Quality Website

A new website is available for Wiltshire residents to check the quality of the air outside.  Hosted by Wiltshire Council, it draws on information from air quality monitoring sites across the county.

Wiltshire residents can also sign-up for Know & Respond SMS or email alerts, which is a service that sends information directly to you and provides you with all you need to know about the current air pollution levels.

Health advice is also available and is based on a simple rating system:

  • 1-3 low
  • 4-6 moderate
  • 7-9 high
  • 10 very high

The system is designed to help you take the right action if pollution levels become higher than normal.

Wiltshire Air Quality website

Representatives from the CCG will be at the Devizes Area Board meeting on 24 November, which is being held at the Town Hall, St John’s Street, Devizes SN10 1BN.

As well as a Health Fair, which starts at 4.30pm, the CCG will be on hand to talk to you about the Better Care Plan and update you on our work.

Wiltshire Council Area Board – Devizes

Representatives from Wiltshire CCG will be at the Corsham Area Board on 20 November, which takes place at the Springfield Campus, Beechfield Road, Corsham SN13 9DN.

As well as a Health Fair, which opens at 2.30pm, the CCG will be on hand to talk to you about the Better Care Plan and give you an update on our work.

Wiltshire Council Area Board – Corsham

The Tower of London

Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBI had a fascinating morning at the Tower of London recently.

Along with thousands of others I was overawed by the 888,246 ceramic poppies that are being planted, each one representing a British and Colonial death during World War I, which started 100 years ago.

It certainly made one reflect on the horrific waste of human life and provided a chance to ‘never forget’ those who perished.

As we walked away from the Tower, my wife and I reflected on the numbers involved and then reminded ourselves of the vast numbers that died some four years after the start of the war from the flu pandemic of 1918/19.

The global mortality rate is not exactly known but it is estimated that 10-20% of those infected died and about 30 % of the worlds population were infected, meaning between 3-6% of the entire worlds population died, some 50 to 100 million people.

This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate and the severity of the symptoms. The close living conditions and massive troop movements of World War 1 probably increased the transmission and mutation of the virus. It has been suggested that soldiers’ immune systems were weakened by malnutrition as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility to infection.

Nowadays we are fortunate that our living conditions have improved and we have better nutrition and supportive treatment for any of those succumbing to flu.

We also have the flu vaccine that is available free of charge to over 65s, pregnant women, children and adults with underlying health conditions. A nasal spray is available for children aged two to 17 years old and at risk of flu plus all children aged two, three or four years old.

The vaccine is developed by the World Health Organisation and is dependant on the predicted type of flu virus that will affect us each year. And it works.

I would implore any one entitled to a free flu jab to make sure that you go and get it. If you are concerned you might be at risk of flu, but do not fall into one of the qualifying categories, you can, for a small fee be vaccinated at many of our local pharmacies by qualified staff. You can even have the vaccination after you have done your weekly shop at several of our large local supermarkets. It really is that easy.

We can’t change history but perhaps we can all play our part in ensuring that flu never has the devastating effect that it once had.

Sorry no time to write more at present, going to have my flu jab – and no I’m not over 65!

Video of Tower of London poppies from above