August's Minutes

Sarah welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked everyone for coming out on such a rainy evening.

Our guests this month were Sara Moran and Amie Phillips from Diabetes UK Cymru, Sara is the campaigns officer at the office and attends reference groups and health board planning meetings amongst other things in her role. Amie is a volunteer’s officer and is a fantastic guide for help and advice in setting up and supporting groups and volunteers. Both have been amazingly supportive in helping get our group off the ground.

Our health board is split into 5 areas, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Newport. We feel it is important that patients in Newport get to voice an opinion in how our healthcare is managed and set out to raise awareness of this process at our meeting.

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss issues that could be fed back to the health board, this is totally anonymous, but we are looking for issues that you are not happy about with your healthcare by the healthcare professionals and also just as importantly, the good news stories of what our practices do well.

This is going to be an ongoing project so if at any time you have any issues that you would like to raise, there is a box of index cards on the welcome table that you may fill in with, again completely anonymous, there will be no comeback on anyone as its always kept anonymous at the meetings higher up too.

We started by discussing the differences between “hypo’s” and “hyper’s” and Sara gave us the analogy of a whale and a dolphin, with a whale having a slow gradual raise in blood glucose levels to a plateau before dropping to a lower level which is what it should look like at a normal rate, however a dolphin has to regularly raise and drop in the water showing lots of dips and peaks somewhat like blood glucose raising and dipping somewhat like a hypo.

So to recap a hypo – is a drop in blood sugar levels and can be treated with a quick intake of sugary food such as jelly babies or lucozade.

Hyper’s – are when your blood sugars climb too high and is normally treated with insulin to bring them back down to normal levels.

One issue that was raised was that we are told the people who take metformin do not suffer or experience hypo’s but just talking in the group shows that people have experienced them whilst taking metformin.

Amie offered everyone present a printed copy of the 15 healthcare essentials.

Foot problems are a really big issue with lots in the news lately about complications in diabetes leading to amputation. It is important you are getting you foot checks at your annual review, which includes having the nurse/doctor actually examining your bare feet for sensation, tingling and circulation as well as checking your nails. It’s also important that if you have problems or pain in your feet that you let the doctor know and not wait for your annual check.

Eyes are another essential check and you should be seeing the Diabetic Retinopathy Team annually, if you have not been seen or referred to them by your GP or practice nurse you can “self-refer” to them.

Another issue that was raised was the difference in doctor’s surgeries across Wales, and their differences in prescribing testing equipment, it is hoped that in the near future every doctor surgery would have a 3 different blood glucose monitors to give the patient a choice. The issues some are facing are that some surgeries are charging for the meters but the testing strips are on prescription, and some practices are not offering testing monitors/meters even when asked for.

Other issues include, having been using testing equipment so often that the skin becomes hardened at the testing sites and the lancets do not penetrate the skin. Amie told the group about some monitors that do not use lancets and are a swiping meter such as the Freestyle Libra, however this is at the higher end of the price range with sensors and supporting materials being very expensive.

We also brought the subject of testing and injecting sites up, as sometimes over use of a testing site can cause hard lumps to form under the skin. It is best to discuss this with your Diabetes Specialist Nurse at you review for advice on where to test or inject to prevent these becoming a problem.

It is the common advice that those who control their diabetes with diet and it is not necessary to test their blood sugar levels.

Education courses such as Desmond, Daphne and X-pert are courses you should be offered, Desmond, a course for people with type 2 Diabetes is being phased out as it is mostly covered by x-pert. X-pert courses in the Newport area are currently inviting people who were diagnosed in January 2014 to attend – some 20 months after diagnosis.

It was questioned that maybe people should be referred to the X-pert course when in the “pre-diabetes” stage, however it was discussed that not everyone is diagnosed as pre-diabetic. It was also raised that when the course is run well it is excellent however some experiences have been not very professional when dieticians have had to pick each session up at short notice.

It was also discussed that GP’s have the ability to provide an Information Prescription, about diabetes, but no one had received one from their doctor.

The Grange Medical Practice in Malpas was praised for it’s excellent healthcare of some of the group members. And that some other practice nurses have been amazing.

Some GP’s are also not providing the results of your blood tests with just glossing over that they are ok or within range, please remember you have a right to know the levels of these results so don’t be “fobbed off” by your GP not giving them to you.

A lot of the information giving on the news is from English Health boards whose checks and policies are not the same as Welsh health boards.

If you would like to discuss any issues directly with Sara or Amie they can be reached at the Cardiff Office on 02920 668267.

Our next meeting is Thursday 17th September where local pharmacist Martin Davies of Martin Davies Chemists of Caerleon Road will be attending to discuss medication and issues regarding diabetes. Martin has a daughter who is type 1 Diabetic and is very passionate about diabetes. He will also be returning in November to show monitors and equipment.

October’s meeting will be split into two halves, the first half being a talk from Sinead O’Neill from Newport Mind who is going to talk about the emotional side of living with a lifelong condition. The second half will be with Anna Pennington from the National Exercise on Referral Scheme coming to talk about the importance of promoting good circulation in the feet and lower legs.

We are also hoping to secure a dietician coming in in December with hints and tips on how to survive Christmas!!!

An interesting few months coming up, I hope you will join me at the group meetings.

If you have anything you would like to raise or to be covered in upcoming meetings please let me know.


Sarah Gibbs – Secretary – 07743447331