Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP meets Sir Steve Redgrave in a bid to raise awareness of the growing diabetes epidemic

10.44.50am GMT Wed 2nd Nov 2005

Stephen Williams MP meets Sir Steve Redgrave

Stephen Williams MP has met five times Olympic gold medalist Sir Steve Redgrave, who was at the House of Commons to raise awareness of diabetes and the importance of early detection of the condition. The event was organised by leading community pharmacy chain, Lloydspharmacy and was attended by nearly 100 MPs and Lords.

Sir Steve, who was first diagnosed with the condition back in 1997, but went on to re-write the history books by winning gold in the Sydney Olympics, is an excellent example of how, if diagnosed early and managed well, diabetes need not be at all restricting.

He says, "When I was first diagnosed I was completely devastated and believed initially that I would no longer be able to continue training for the Olympics in 2000. How wrong I was! I very soon realised that with special guidance and support I would be able to continue training and reach the goals I had set myself."

Stephen Williams heard how Lloydspharmacy - who has been offering free diabetes testing for over two years- is making real in-roads in the detection of the condition. Through their efforts alone, three quarters of a million people in the UK have been tested, with more than 37,500 of those needing a referral to their GP because they were perceived to be at significant risk of developing the condition.

Stephen Williams said of the initiative, "The impact of diabetes on our health as a nation is quite staggering. It is estimated that around 2 million people are diagnosed as having diabetes but there are a further 1 million unaware that they are living with the condition. This can greatly impact on their quality of life and ultimate life expectancy as well as putting increased pressure on our local health services. It is refreshing to see companies like Lloydspharmacy taking proactive steps to help manage the condition from an early stage."

"If constituents take advantage of free screening tests like this that are available within the local community, it will clearly have beneficial consequences for the burden that at present falls on GPs shoulders alone."

While he was there Stephen Williams took the opportunity to discuss a number of other topical health issues and heard how pharmacists are now playing a more active role in healthcare provision, following the introduction of the new pharmacy contract that was introduced in April and came into force on 1st October 2005.

Some of the key issues discussed included:

• Minor ailments schemes and how pharmacists can now work with local Primary Care Organisations to offer first line treatment for certain common conditions that have been highlighted as local priorities. For example, earlier this year patients throughout Northamptonshire were able to access quicker advice and treatment for 27 minor conditions, courtesy of a new Minor Ailments Scheme created by Lloydspharmacy in conjunction with three Northamptonshire PCTs.

• The accreditation of pharmacists. For example, more pharmacists are being trained to undertake medicines use reviews. This empowers them to discuss patients medication for certain conditions, such as asthma, and they can make recommendations towards better management if appropriate.

• Other services such as free repeat prescription collection, which means patients on repeat prescriptions can now simply collect their medicines direct from their pharmacy, rather than having to make an appointment to see their GP first.

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Previous news story: Stephen Williams MP takes part in Make a Difference Day (Mon 31st Oct 2005).
Next news story: Local MP to Turn Society Upside Down (Fri 4th Nov 2005).

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