Organisers of a new event staged to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes have pledged to “create patient power”.
The benefits of peer support and networks were highlighted during the first-ever Talking About Diabetes (TAD) conference, which took place on Saturday March 12, at Imperial College, London.
Speakers with type 1 diabetes talked about their harrowing experiences of being diagnosed and living with the condition.
“A new generation of doctors”
The conference was organised by a team of diabetes consultants, including Dr. Partha Kar (pictured), from Portsmouth Hospitals; Dr. Catherine Peters, from Great Ormond Street Hospital; and Dr. Peter Hindmarsh, of University College Hospital.
Kar said: “When we set this up we wanted to take forward type 1 diabetes. One of the reasons for establishing this forum was to create patient power for type 1 diabetes outside the bubble of Twitter. There is a new generation of doctors and consultants that are trying to make things better.”
Some themes discussed at the conference included missed diagnoses, the postcode lottery of care in the UK, peer support, education and technology.
The event was compered by BBC Radio 4 Today Programme presenter Justin Webb, whose son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged nine.
Webb said: “It’s very helpful to bring doctors and people together to talk in a positive way about diabetes.”
“Journey of change and resilience”
Anne Cooper, a senior nurse who has had type 1 diabetes since 1979, told the audience about her “journey of change and resilience” and said “peers and support networks are incredibly important”.
Joe Eldridge, a co-founder of Team Novo Nordisk and professional cyclist from 2008 to 2014, flew over from America to talk at the conference.
He said: “We just want to be an example and inspiration to other people with diabetes to live their dreams and also to have a supportive team around them. Taking control of my diabetes gave me a lot of empowerment and motivation in the racing.”
Laura Cleverly, whose alias on Twitter is Ninjabetic, spoke about the routine of “being in hospital with DKA every six months”, before getting to grips with type 1 diabetes.
“Near-death experience”
Jamie Reed, a Labour MP in Copeland, recalled his near-death experience following a missed diagnosis during the 2010 General Election; eventually he was told that he had type 1 diabetes. Reed concluded: “The truth is type 1 diabetics get a raw deal in this country.”
Former Diabetes UK president Richard Lane OBE, recalled his experiences of becoming the first person with type 1 diabetes in the UK to stop taking insulin before eventually having to go back on the drug.

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