July's Minutes

Sarah opened the meeting and welcomed everyone, and offered apologies from Valery Ede and Sarah Hawkins.

Sarah welcomed Sian Ward, Diabetic Specialist Nurse based at Richmond House in the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Sian started by explaining what she does and quickly started taking questions from the group, one question in particular was about how did the pinprick test we do to test our blood glucose levels relate to the HbA1c test which is normally given to us as a percentage.


Sian explained that the pinprick test was a real time test to show the blood glucose levels at that particular time. And technically speaking was not related to the HbA1c. It was also not always necessary for people controlling their diabetes with diet alone to test regularly, however as a group we felt this should not be the case as those with monitors found it an easier way to keep control on their levels.


We discussed that the cost of meters was dictated by a preferred list of meters given to doctor surgeries who also had costings on test strips which is where the mayor costings were met and found that the cost of meters is not as cost effective as the hospital HbA1c test.


We discussed those who should have testing monitors such as those on glicazide medication which can cause hypos and is instructed in the DVLA regulations regarding people with diabetes and driving.


We agreed that education regarding the condition was essential and mentioned courses such as the DESMOND and X-PERT course as excellent courses to attend and if you had not attended either to ask your Doctor to refer you to attend one or both of these courses.


Metformin – the most common medication for Type 2, despite being a relatively old drug is still the best for helping to control blood glucose levels, as it makes the body more sensitive and as such it should not cause hypos, and if you were to test for yourself, a staggered pattern of testing over a week to 10 days should show any patterns that you may be unaware of in your foods.


We also learned that the target for blood glucose levels is 4-7 and below 4 was considered a hypo. (Less than 4 – on the floor!!)


We also asked what a hypo was. Sian explained it can be as individual as your diabetes and could be anything from feeling down, to tingling in your mouth, dizziness, going pale and trembling and sweating heavily.


Sian explained what the two types of Diabetes were

Type 1 – Where the pancreas shuts down completely and does not produce insulin at all.

Type 2 – Where your body has too much insulin to being unable to produce enough insulin.


The Diabetes Team at the Royal Gwent is made up of 3 Consultant Endocrinologists and a number of Diabetic Specialist Nurses. The staff cover a wide range of Secondary care patients with a crossover of symptoms including loss of mobility and infections that cause a raise in blood glucose levels.


The most important area of treating Diabetes is diet but this is not always the easiest to deal with alone, and as such the Diabetes Team at the Gwent also have access to dieticians for help and advice.


HbA1c levels show how much glucose the red blood cells are transporting around the body in a “normal” person the HbA1c levels should be between 20 – 45 mmols these levels used to be measured in percentages and is equivalent to 1% = 11mmols


High levels in the blood make it more “syrupy” so quite thick and almost sticky this is what causes problems with circulation, diabetes complications are always as a result of blood vessel damage toe tingling, eye problems etc all related to the damage of the blood vessels caused by the thick syrupy blood travelling through the veins.


Reducing your HbA1c levels by 1% will mean 19% less likely to develop cataracts

16% less likely to develop heart problems

43% less likely to develop problems that may lead to amputations


Raises in blood glucose levels can be attributed to stress, adrenaline surges as opposed to exercise which is a controlled release of adrenaline.


We discussed what a care plan should look like and the type of things that should be included in a care plan. It should show a diet history, agreed targets for activity, medication and other conditions that you may have. It is something that should be agreed between the Healthcare professional and you and should help you be and keep motivated. – Be realistic.


Professor Harding holds a foot clinic at Richmond House that GP’s can refer you to following your foot check but it is important to consider when it comes to feet footwear should be long enough, wide enough and deep enough to fit your feet, which sounds like common sense but is very practical.


Sarah apologized that Anna from the Exercise on Referral Program was unable to make it on the night but she has rescheduled to attend in October.


The next meeting is Thursday 20th August 7pm – 8:30pm at Ss Julius and Aaron Church Hall, Heather Road, Newport.


There is a health event being held on 20th August at the Fields adjacent to Ringland Community Centre 10:30am – 3pm, we will be displaying a table with leaflets and having the opportunity to talk to people about diabetes and the group, you are welcome to come along to visit the event and/or to help with our table.


Chair: - Valery Ede

Treasurer: - Ann Dodson

Secretary: - Sarah Gibbs

Vice Chair: - Sarah Hawkins


Upcoming Group Nights


17th September – Martin Davies – Pharmacist, will be giving a talk about diabetes and medication


15th October – Sinead O’Neill from Mind will be coming to talk about the emotional side of living with a lifelong condition. Anna Pennington from the National Exercise on Referral Scheme will also be attending to discuss maintaining good circulation in the lower legs.


19th November – Martin Davies – Pharmacist, will be bringing along monitors and equipment used in diabetes treatment, showing things such as what injecting pens etc. look like.




Contact details

Sarah Gibbs – Secretary – 07743447331