On Tuesday 01 March, Diabetes.co.uk launched the expert Advisory Panel – a collective of medical practitioners whose expertise will help us to bridge the gap between people with diabetes and clinical policy.

Diabetes.co.uk is immensely proud of this development. We believe it can lead to real, substantial change in the way diabetes is treated in the UK.

Why set up the Advisory Panel?

We have always endeavoured to act as a mouthpiece for the diabetes community. Through our forum, we provide a platform where the real experts in diabetes management – those who live with it every day – can share their stories, insights and advice with others in the same situation. We’ve seen some amazing discussions over the years, and it is clear to us that many potentially ground-breaking ideas go unnoticed because they challenge the established ideas concerning diabetes treatment.

Digital healthcare: bridging the gap between the traditional and the new

Many commentators have legitimate reservations when it comes to digital healthcare. How can we ensure the information given online is authoritative and effective? How can we ensure that the advice of GPs isn’t undermined by unqualified voices on a forum?

These are difficult questions, and they have interested us since we founded Diabetes.co.uk. It has never been our intention to undermine traditional healthcare methods – on the contrary, we want to enhance them. We want the NHS to embrace digital health as an invaluable resource that can push our healthcare system to new heights.

That, in essence, is the idea behind the Advisory Panel. By collaborating with influential, forward-thinking medical professionals, we believe we can spark serious discussion about the role digital platforms can play in healthcare.

We want to take the ideas of the community, such as the benefits of the low-carb diet, and create an efficient dialogue with senior figures within healthcare. We believe the Advisory Panel can help us to achieve this.

Bringing new ideas to the fore

We’ve been communicating with the diabetes community for several years now, and we’ve heard some interesting ideas. Many of them weren’t being recommended by the NHS – not at the time, anyway – but their legitimacy has since become clear.

Perhaps the most compelling example is low-carb. Although official dietary guidelines recommended that people with diabetes follow diets low in saturated fat and high in starchy carbohydrates, thousands of our users were losing weight and lowering their blood glucose levels by cutting down on the carbs.

The forum was the first community space in which low-carb gained momentum as a beneficial alternative diet for people with diabetes. The anecdotal evidence was strong, and before long it wasn’t just anecdotal. Dr. David Unwin, intrigued by what he read on the forum, conducted studies into the effects of low-carb, and what he found matched exactly what the community had been saying.

The low-carb success story is a perfect parable of the benefits of digital healthcare, but established healthcare bodies have been reluctant to embrace it – despite the fact that numerous peer-reviewed studies agree with the ideas of the community. We hope that with the work we do with the Advisory Panel will further strengthen the voice of the community, and expedite the development of ground-breaking ideas.

Who is on the Advisory Panel?

The expert Advisory Panel is comprised of:

Professor Roger Gadsby, Associate Clinical Professor at Warwick Medical School. Professor Gadsby has been working with people with diabetes since 1984, in which time he was written four textbooks and over 200 articles and papers. His role on the Advisory Panel is bridging the gap between real-world experience and clinical trials.

Dr. Ketan Dhatariya, a Diabetes, Endocrinology & General Medicine Consultant at the Norfolk University and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust. Dr. Dhatariya has been a qualified doctor since 1991. His particular interest lies in reducing inpatient spend using digital interventions and education.

Dr. Simon Eaton, a Consultant Diabetologist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust based at North Tyneside General Hospital. He is also Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer for Newcastle University. Dr. Eaton is intrigued by the potential of digital spaces to facilitate individualised care.

Dr. Charles Fox, whose interests lie in diabetes education, communication and patient empowerment. Author of four books, Dr. Fox is interested in using digital space to improve the health of older people.

June James, a Consultant Nurse in Diabetes for the University Hospitals of Leicester. With June’s help, Diabetes.co.uk hopes to explore the ways in which digital spaces can benefit nurses.

Dr. Partha Kar, who was the Clinical Director of Diabetes at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust between 2009 and 2015. There, he developed the Super Six Model, which won the Care Integration Award in 2012. Dr. Kar’s focus within the Advisory Panel is on using digital to integrate chronic disease management into healthcare.

Dr. Tabitha Randell, Consultant in Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at Nottingham Children’s Hospital. With Dr. Randell’s help, Diabetes.co.uk hopes to explore the ways in which digital spaces can benefit children.

Dr. Chris Gillespie, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Royal Derby Hospital, is intrigued by the potential of digital platforms to improve emotional support for people with diabetes.

Dr. Gerry Rayman is focusing on how we can educate people with diabetes in new and innovative ways. His interests fit nicely with the interests of Diabetes.co.uk, who have provided innovative education solutions through the Low Carb Program and the Hypo Training Program. Dr. Rayman is Head of Service at the Diabetes Centre, Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust.

Dr. David Unwin is one of the leading voices in low-carb. He has conducted multiple investigations into the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet, and his work has consistently indicated that low-carb can improve health outcomes for people with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Unwin, who has been a partner at the Norwood surgery in Southport since 1986, is interested more broadly in how we can make people with diabetes better without using medication.

Dr. David Cavan is the Director of Policy and Programmes at the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). In 2014, he published Reverse Your Diabetes: the step-by-step plan to take control of type 2 diabetes, in association with Diabetes.co.uk. Dr. Cavan is a leading voice on a range of diabetes debates, including carb-restricted diets and self-monitoring of blood glucose for people with type 2 diabetes.


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