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Diabetes patients urged not to avoid the NHS

Posted on: 10 June 2020

This Diabetes Week, GPs in Tower Hamlets are urging people with diabetes not to avoid the NHS due to the coronavirus outbreak.

There are 134,000 people diagnosed with diabetes in north east London and there are over 50,000 people with a high risk of developing it. In the UK one in ten people over 40 now has Type 2 diabetes, and the number of people living with diabetes in all its forms has reached 4.8 million.

The full range of diabetes services are still available in Tower Hamlets to provide care and support through virtual and online clinics, with face-to-face care available where appropriate.

Dr Tamara Hibbert, GP and Diabetes Clinical Lead in North East London, said: "If you are diabetic it is important you do not wait to get medical help if you need it. We know that some people are worried that they might be a burden to the NHS, or that they could contract COVID-19 but the NHS has put measures in place to make sure patients are seen safely, and often you won't need to be seen in person.

"We also know that diabetes is a risk factor when it comes to coronavirus so it is vitally important you don't avoid seeking help at any time and attend any routine appointments or check-ups.

"You can visit NHS 111 online or the Diabetes UK website for advice specifically for diabetics, or if you cannot access the internet, call 111; or contact your GP directly either online, by an app or by phone to be assessed. Most appointments with a GP will now be via a phone call."

Trevor Jowett, a diabetes patient from East London, aged 85, said: "I've been really happy with the care I've had through the diabetes virtual clinics. Although I've had diabetes for some time I was recently referred to the specialist clinic as I now need to inject insulin.

"Before I started my injections I had a virtual appointment where I was shown what I needed to do and had the chance to ask any questions. It was great - I could see them and they could see me. Since my virtual appointment, the specialist team call me each week to check in and make sure everything is going well and I know they are there if need to call them any time.

"I also have other conditions that need follow up checks and appointments and it's been great to have these by phone rather than have to travel into hospital by taxi, especially during covid. If anyone has any hesitations about seeking help, I'd say just don't – they are here to help you."