Staggering figures released by the Scottish Government reveal the extent of undiagnosed diabetes cases in the Western Isles.
The figures obtained from the Scottish Government through a series of Parliamentary Questions revealed that there are 1,259 people in the Western Isles diagnosed with Diabetes, whilst it is estimated that a further 698 people remain undiagnosed and at significant risk of developing health issues and complications from the condition.
Commenting on the figures, MSP David Stewart, Scottish Parliamentary Champion for Diabetes, said: “The numbers of people living with undiagnosed diabetes in the Western Isles is simply staggering, and could easily be rectified.
“I hope these revealing figures will spur on the Scottish Government to act and tackle this increasingly alarming trend in undiagnosed diabetes cases.”
Jane MacAulay is part of NHS Western Isles’ diabetes nurse specialist team. There are four nurses and a consultant physician as well as Diabetologist clinics in Benbecula and Stornoway.
She said: “NHS Western Isles is well aware of the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the community and has invested heavily in specialist services as well as training for clinical staff in primary, community and secondary care to ensure that the increased demand can be managed in an effective and evidence based manner.
“We are confident that the measures put in place are sufficient to manage the increasing number of patients.
“The earlier the diagnosis, the better. This benefits the patients, in terms of leading a healthier life and avoiding the complications of diabetes. Our aim is to continuously raise awareness of the signs, symptoms and risks, so that people can be diagnosed as early as possible.
“I would ask anyone who feels that they have any of the symptoms of diabetes, no matter how mild, to see their GP for a check up. Also anyone aged 40-65, please do attend the Well North Programme when they are called.
“It is obviously important to remember that in many cases the development of Type 2 diabetes is largely affected by lifestyle.
“Increased calorie intake and decreased mobility with associated weight gain are key factors.”
Well North Outer Hebrides is the screening programme that has been in place in NHS Western Isles for over five years. It provides a comprehensive risk assessment, rather than just a diabetes test, for Cardiovascular Disease and uses a reliable screening test (HbA1C) which has uncovered many cases of ‘silent’ diabetes.
Abdul Rias was admitted to hospital for suspected appendicitis and during routine blood-test it was discovered that he was diabetic.
He said: “I had all the symptoms under the sun but due to lack of awareness I was unable to suspect diabetes. I had a different excuse for each symptom - tiredness due to driving 200 miles per day; thirst and passing water very frequently due to age.
“I have had to adjust my diet - I was a proper chocoholic. I could eat boxes of chocolates in one go! I was very lazy but now make it a point to walk for at least half an hour after each meal.”