Two County Durham NHS doctors help tackle the diabetes care gap

A County Durham-based medical duo is hoping to provide more support for type 2 diabetes sufferers and help ease the pressure on the NHS by introducing a personalised programme of support based on diet, lifestyle change and expert medical guidance.

The scale of the problem of diabetes in the UK remains unprecedented. Diabetes effects 4.9 million people in the UK, 90% of which have type 2 diabetes, while a further 850,000 people are currently living with type 2 diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed. An estimated £10 billion a year is being spent on fighting diabetes nearly 80% of which goes to treating complications.

Husband and wife team Dr Amanda Porch and Dr Paul Baker, who continue to practice as NHS GP’s, have seen first-hand the strain that the NHS is currently under when treating type 2 diabetes.

The couple’s new initiative, Diabetes Lifestyle Doctors, aims to become a one-stop-shop for sufferers of type 2 diabetes providing additional and more accessible support that the NHS is too overstretched to currently offer everyone

People can participate in a 12-week lifestyle plan supported by trained professionals such as doctors, health and wellness coaches and dietitians, as well as access to recipes, video content and a community support network hosted on social media.

Dr Paul said: “I truly think the NHS does an exceptional job for the scale of the problem we’re facing in this country. But, unfortunately, nearly all the resources have to be directed towards managing diabetes complications, of which there are many.”

“We know from research that intensive lifestyle intervention, particularly earlier on, around the time of diagnosis is a powerful tool for improving blood glucose levels, decreasing insulin resistance and weight, and reversing the root causes of type 2 diabetes.”

“My Grandad had type 2 diabetes for quite a few years before he died. He always struggled to come to terms with the diagnosis and struggled with what to do and what not to do. I believe if everyone diagnosed had easy access to a diabetes focussed lifestyle programme, that we could change the trajectory of managing this condition for the benefit of our society.”

Both Amanda and Paul feel that patients with diabetes receive excellent care and follow up from the NHS, a GP’s inability to spend significant time with their patients during the initial NHS diagnosis creates a diabetes care gap; one they are looking to solve with Diabetes Lifestyle Doctors.

Dr Amanda said: “The limitation is lack of time and demand on the system often meaning less frequent appointments than we would all like.”

“It’s hard having the knowledge and experience to help, but not being able to put it to full use for the benefit of patients,” she added. ­­

“It’s a big diagnosis to give and a big turning point in someone’s life. You want it to be done right and to give the right support to patients, but unfortunately there isn’t the time resource to do that. That’s where the idea for our programme was born.

“Our programme embodies the support and all the tools we wish we could give to our patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. With the COVID-19 pandemic placing additional strain on the NHS in recent times, Dr Paul feels that this still may not be enough to tackle the problem. The time to tackle the diabetes care gap is now.”

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