“As part of our commitment to improving the quality of life of people with diabetes, we have put together a new training course, called "EMPOWER" to help people improve their self management skills and therefore avoid the unpleasant complications associated with the condition. Working with practice nurses and GP practices, we will be providing three sessions of training over a three month period to help people using insulin to take control and achieve optimal blood glucose levels for a full and healthy life. Look out for it in your local practice."

The above was in a newsletter which I received from Spirit Healthcare today. For a few years now, I have been buying test strips from this firm. Not wishing to sound like an advertisement for them - their customer service is superb - way beyond the call of duty. I do not have to buy my own test strips BTW - my surgery will prescribe them, but I only ask for the minimum every few months just so it is recorded that I use them, and then use it as a basis for discussion of the issue whenever I have a review. An opening to rant about the system if you like.

I like this firm - they are quirky and have a sense of humour as their website probably demonstrates, I haven‘t checked lately. I was particularly impressed by the attitude of one of their chief medical advisors, a very well qualified, experienced diabetes nurse. If only all of them thought as she does! I don't agree with everything they say in their newsletters but accept that if they are working with the NHS they must give a nod in its direction - and also in the direction of DUK, (alas).

I am in a bit of a moral dilemma about this and would love to know what others think.

When, it was suggested to me a few years ago that I should go onto insulin I would not even consider the idea. Why? Because it would have been initiated in my Practice and I just could not trust the Nurses. I had received poor, and even dangerous, advice while on oral medication. Advice, incidentally, which was not recorded anywhere.

Why should I trust the same people to give me the correct advice about insulin when mistakes were potentially more dangerous?  I have to say that I would have felt a lot happier with a course such as “EMPOWER” delivered, presumably, by people specifically trained in this area. Yes, I know the Nurses are supposed to be trained but I have been a patient at two practices where they are scarcely accountable to anyone.

My dilemma is - are initiatives like this to be welcomed? The firm say that they are working WITH the NHS. Perhaps this sort of collaboration is a result of the setting up of the CCG's (Clinical Commissioning Groups) - they can buy in these services because of the control they now have over their budgets. This will mean, of course, that the course will only be available in certain areas. Should the whole idea be seen as part of the piecemeal break-up of the NHS?

As a diabetic patient I welcome the prospect of better care than I can, or can ever expect, to get under the present system. But matters are never so simple. Should we just accept the inevitable and  make the most of what is on offer for our condition  or  should we regard such things with great suspicion as the thin end of the wedge ?

Thank you in advance for your comments.


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