Next meeting: Access to Technology

Next meeting: 12th September 2017, 2:30-4pm, House of Commons

While new technology offers the hope of making diabetes more manageable, often these innovations do not reach the people who need it the most.

  • A recent survey found that 27 per cent of  respondents have been refused a prescription for blood glucose test strips or have had the number of test strips on their prescription restricted.
  • In addition, 66 per cent of respondents were given no choice of blood glucose meter. One in four were not happy with the meter provided.
  • There is significant variation in the availability of pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) technology.
  • Flash Glucose Monitoring is currently only available for those who can pay privately.

It is time diabetes technology is more accessible to everyone with diabetes who could benefit from their use.

The APPG will hear from healthcare professionals and people with diabetes about why diabetes technology is essential; what progresses and innovations are on the horizon; and what can we do to ensure everyone can access the technology they need to live a happy and healthy life with diabetes.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP by emailing Due to limits on room capacity, please note that admittance will be on a first come, first served and one organisation, one person basis.

Call for evidence: If you have an experience or best practice to share, please contribute to our report and send in a written submission to until midnight August 31st.


AGM and 2017 Calendar

Minutes: APPG for Diabetes AGM

5.7.17 5-6pm, PCH Room M

Members in attendance:

  • Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP
  • The Rt Hon George Howarth MP
  • Mr Mark Pritchard MP
  • Mr Faisal Rashid MP
  • Mr Virendra Sharma MP
  • Mr Derek Twigg MP
  • Ms Valerie Vaz MP

Item 1:

Chair, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, welcomed members to the AGM. Notified attendees that the purpose of meeting was to re-elect the officers of the Group. Chair read out the current roles held by members of the group.

Item 2:

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP moved to re-elect all officers to their previous roles. No objections. Roles appointed as follows:

  • Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP – Chair
  • Jim Shannon MP – Vice Chair
  • Victoria Atkins MP – Vice Chair
  • Liz McInnes MP – Co-Secretary
  • John McNally MP – Co-Secretary
  • Baroness Ludford – Treasurer

Item 3:

Any other business – none.

The calendar for forthcoming APPG for Diabetes meetings will be:

  • Wednesday, 6th of September – Access to Technology
  • Wednesday, 18th of October – Diabetes Prevention
  • Wednesday, 29th of November – Healthcare Professionals training

Details and speakers will be confirmed ahead of each meeting.


Update: AGM

Following the General Elections, any All-Party Parliamentary Group wishing to continue must now hold an inaugural meeting and register afresh until the 15th of September.

The APPG for Diabetes will host its Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the election of officers:

Wednesday, 5th of July 2017

5pm to 6pm

Room M – Portcullis House

The updated calendar of meetings for 2017 will be announced after the AGM.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP by emailing Due to limits on room capacity, please note that admittance will be on a first come, first served and one organisation, one person basis.


Update: Purdah

From close of business Tuesday 3rd of May to the morning of Friday 9th of June, the APPG for Diabetes technically cease to exist as Parliament will be dissolved. Please be aware All-Party Parliamentary Groups must not be active during this period per rules of Parliament. There will be no events, research or communication through e-mail, website or social media. The Group will reform after the elections.


Minutes: The Future of Inpatient Diabetes Care

On Wednesday 19 April, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes had a meeting on The Future of Inpatient Diabetes Care. The meeting was chaired by the Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP and had the presence of Jim Shannon MP and Mary Glindon MP.

Right now, one in six hospital beds is occupied by a person with diabetes. Because of poor management and a lack of training for staff about how to care for people with diabetes, a large number of these patients develop complications whilst in hospital that can lead to a longer length of stay. Despite areas of improvement, medication errors are still common and there is a need to improve staffing levels and patient experiences.

The APPG heard from experts in the field on why change is needed, the challenges remaining and potential solutions to improve inpatient diabetes care. The meeting focused on the measures hospitals should adopt to improve the experience of people with diabetes in hospital.

1. Lesley Doherty, patient voice, Cheshire (East)


Lesley has Type 1 Diabetes and she shared the positive and negative experiences she has had with inpatient diabetes care. She has been admitted twice at the same hospital, once for colon surgery and another for orthopaedic surgery, and experienced a varied range of quality of inpatient diabetes care.

For her colon surgery, she stated the pre-assessment was excellent. The nurse contacted the Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) for advice on insulin and its effects on anaesthetics. Lesley was fully informed about insulin management prior to the operation, on what to expect during the post op and after the discharge. She was given a direct line for emergency care and advice, received dietary management on how to optimise her dietary intake post and after surgery, and received guidance on the procedures for admission and recovery at the general ward.

This was the opposite of what happened during pre-assessment for her orthopaedic surgery. The operative procedures were discussed, however the nurse was unable to offer any advice on diabetes care, the DSN was not available and she was not offered a contact number.

“I was shocked that the same hospital could get care so right in one department but so wrong in another. If this had been my first experience of hospital care I would be very afraid.”

Gladly, Lesley stated that for both times the care during surgery was excellent. She was allowed to store her medication and food/drink supplies at an accessible place, her blood glucose (BG) was checked and the insulin infusion drip adjusted accordingly. She was questioned about her feet and any bed sores.

“I felt confident in the hospital team. Confident that all my healthcare needs were fully understood and I would be well cared both during and after the operation. I also felt confident that if surgery presented any complications these would be satisfactory managed and I would be kept safe.”

Unfortunately, the same excellent care was not continued during the night or the weekend. In one evening, she started feeling her BG levels dropping and could hear the alarm on the insulin infusion drip, but was unable to find a nurse to help her. By the time a competent nurse reached her, her BG levels were down to 1.7 and she was in need of rescue. This was fixed during the morning by removing the insulin infusion drip and allowing her to self-manage her own diabetes. However, during the weekend, the ward was staffed and the only nurse was often not available. She asked her consultant if she could be discharged as she was worried about what would happen to her if she suffered another hypo. “I felt fearful for any future long term hospital stays and frustrated that a medical emergency could easily been avoided”, said Lesley.

2. Prof Mike Sampson, Chair, JBDS-IP


Prof Mike Sampson started by covering the role and plans of the UK Joint British Diabetes Societies for Inpatient diabetes care (JBDS-IP), which he chairs. The JBDS-IP started in 2011 as a collaboration between Diabetes UK, the UK Diabetes Inpatient specialist nurse (DISN) group, the UK diabetes specialist diabetologist group (ABCD) and colleagues with the objective of supporting the development of safe and effective inpatient diabetes services.

He complimented the work of the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit (NaDIA) in providing clear recognition of the scale of the problem with inpatient diabetes care, but wondered: “how this knowledge can be translated into improvements?” He raised the issue of Acute Trusts and how they need to be persuaded of the scale of the inpatient diabetes problem and convinced to take it seriously.

In order to address this, he shared how since 2014 JBDS has had multiple discussions with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) national leadership. As a result, in 2015/2016 inpatient diabetes became recognised as one of the few disease specific areas in a CQC Acute Trust inspection and inpatient diabetes is integrated into most stages of a CQC Acute Trust inspection.

“The process may nudge Acute Trusts to focus more on inpatient diabetes care, remove obstacles to better care, and may identify Trusts where there is as particular problem with inpatient care. The CQC has a key role in highlighting inpatient diabetes.”

The next steps for JBDS will be to build on the current inclusion by ensuring the current inpatient diabetes inspection framework works well and to develop an additional service inspection framework for focused CQC inspections, which can be used for a specific trust where CQC have concerns.

3. Gerry Rayman, Lead, National Inpatient Diabetes Audit


Gerry Rayman spoke next about the National Inpatient Diabetes Audit (NaDIA). Gerry shared how he came up with the idea of NaDIA in 2008 due to the need to know what was going on with inpatient diabetes care. When he proposed it, a lot of people told him it would not be possible. However, with an extraordinary commitment from inpatient diabetes teams, the audit is now a success.

He started by sharing the findings of the 2016 audit. There has been some encouraging improvements over previous years, but it clear there is still a big problem, especially with people on insulin. He talked about how 2% of inpatients with diabetes have suffered a severe hypoglycaemia and were in need to be rescued due to high management errors. He explained how despite prevalence of hypoglycaemic episodes declining in hospitals, Diabetes KetoAcidosis (DKA) still happens as 140,000 hypo events every year. Sadly, it is still dangerous going to hospital if you have diabetes. The other area of harm Gerry has focused on were on inpatients with diabetes acquiring foot disease while in hospital. There are 200 cases a year of foot disease.

“It is too much. Because of bad care, people with diabetes can die in hospital.”

Gerry said the way forward involves investing on the people who deliver the care. He talked about the importance of dedicated diabetes inpatient teams and the need for these teams to work together with hospital management to implement hospital-wide safety practices. He stated that inpatient diabetes care needs to be a safety issue.

“We need a commitment and a concerted effort made now, across all hospitals, driven forward by hospital leaders including both managers and clinicians, to provide a high level of care for inpatients with diabetes.”

4. Dr Mayank Patel, Consultant Diabetologist, University Hospital Southampton


Dr Mayank Patel spoke next on the novel inpatient initiatives being used to improve and transform inpatient care in Southampton. Each day, 1 in 5 adult inpatients in his trust has diabetes (200 patients). He shared how the Multidisciplinary Diabetes Outreach Team (doctors, specialist nurses, dieticians and a pharmacist) is not able to review all patients daily; also, as the vast majority of these patients have not been admitted primarily due to diabetes, they are not under the care of a specialist diabetes team.

To address this, his team developed in 2011 a series of processes to support the care for patients with diabetes. The processes involve the development of a hospital menu (with carbohydrate content), a Diabetic KetoAcidosis (DKA) careplan booklet, plus different strategies in education and technology integration to support their staff in providing effective diabetes care.

“In our trust, as nationally, many staff do not feel confident in managing diabetes. Part of my team’s role is in delivering staff training. All members of the team contribute.”

Some of the educational examples include a Diabetes Education evening for junior doctors, an Inpatient Diabetes study day for nursing staff, and diabetes ward rounds for final year medical students. After a healthcare professional is involved in insulin errors, they also conduct a reflective meeting. All strategies exceled in increasing confidence in doctors and nurses.

His team has also developed an inpatient diabetes e-learning tool and uses smartphones applications to support clinical diabetes care, either through the development of a free app (DiAppbetes) that works as a pocket book of diabetes advice, or another app (Southampton Tool for Action on Glucose), which acts as a decision support tool. Together, this has contributed to reducing clinical diabetes errors, reducing length of stay and increased patient and staff satisfaction with diabetes care.

Moreover, he spoke on the importance of commitment from the medical and nursing ward staff towards patients with diabetes. It is important patients with diabetes are easily identifiable, have their feet assessed within 24 hours, are immediately treated for hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia before referring to the specialist team and be supported to self-manage if appropriate.

However, they are not alone in this. Dr Patel highlighted how the diabetes inpatient team must have the commitment to support staff with reviews, material, education and plans. He also shared how a patient also must inform the staff if they need diabetes support, as the patient is better positioned to know what is best for them.

“The patient needs to be listened to and encouraged to speak.”

5. Dr Kath Higgins, Consultant in Diabetes Medicine, University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust


Dr Kath Higgins spoke next on the initiatives being used to improve and transform care in Leicester. She started by stating there seems to be a widespread institutional acceptance of poor care that needs to be changed. Staff are lacking in knowledge and competence in managing inpatient diabetes care. Patients are often denied the opportunity to manage their own diabetes whilst in hospital. Inpatients with diabetes are at risk of harm.

“For years these issues have been seen as ‘diabetes team problems’ but they are not. This is a whole Trust problem and we will not be able to tackle the harm associated with inpatient diabetes care without engaging whole Trust buy-in.”

Dr Higgins shared how her team in Leicester has approached this issue to achieve change in inpatient diabetes care. It all starts with creating a strategy that is embedded in hospital. For this, her team has developed a Diabetes Inpatient Safety Committee, wrote a strategy document for the safe use of insulin and present it to the Trust executive team. As a result, her team was able to engage the executive team and develop a Trustwide strategy for the safe use of insulin, which is now embedded in the Trust Safety agenda.

She then explained what the strategy for safe use of insulin entails, and it focuses on: education and leadership, improving patient experience, and patient safety.

The strategy to educate healthcare professionals and develop core competencies for staff is about developing influencers of good care, fostering an ethos of championing good practice and challenging poor practice. Dr Higgins said the responsibility for safe and high quality care for inpatients with diabetes falls under each CMG leadership team to implement and monitor, with the support and input of the diabetes team.

To improve patient safety, Kath’s team adopted a systematic approach focused on empowering staff to recognise, challenge and take action to resolve poor practice or patient experience. One of the strategies were through a robust pathway for reviewing diabetes (REACT diabetes) and ‘rapid response’ targeted education with shared learning.

Another strategy was to integrate technology. Her team is looking at developing systems to monitor diabetes harms continuously. One of the systems the Trust has invested in is the NerveCentre, an electronic task management system on to which patient observations can be uploaded electronically. The system can be used for instant messaging of HCP, automatic task generation, immediate alerts, cascading escalations and overdue reminders. It also provides an audit trail with respect to actions taken in response to abnormal parameters. By designing condition specific recommendations and escalations they hope to develop automated algorithms in response to specific scenario, such as hypos or hyperglycaemia.

“As we move forward we are working with the Trust to procure networked blood glucose meters and link these to the NerveCentre system. With this we aim to develop an electronic Inpatient Diabetes Dashboard to allow continuous monitoring and feedback to clinical areas.”

Dr Higgins shared how her next steps will be to ensure this change can occur nationally. She spoke about the need of a national campaign, similar to previous work done in sepsis, with standards all trusts have to sign up to and internal monitoring with feedback to allow interventions and actions to improve care. She mentioned the need to explore a campaign to empower and inform patients, as well as tackling education and upskilling the ever changing junior medical workforce.

“There is no quick fix here. The work is complex, requires time and buy-in from the whole Trust”.

6. Dr Partha Kar, Associate National Clinical Director, Diabetes, NHS England


Finally, Dr Partha Kar provided an update on the NHS England perspective regarding inpatient diabetes care. He focused on the topics of safety and leadership.

He started talking about ‘Getting it right the first time’ (GIRFT), a programme designed to improve clinical quality and efficiency within the NHS by identifying differences in service delivery and encouraging sharing of best practice. He explained diabetes is a newly added speciality area and how the focus of the programme is primarily safety and good patient outcomes. He stated that improving safety and inpatient diabetes in hospital is a priority for the NHS. He mentioned the transformation fund that was available to those interested in improving inpatient diabetes errors, and hoped the announcement includes many quality inpatient care programs. However, for Dr Par this is not enough.

“How can you keep inpatient diabetes patients safe? There’s no amount of money that will improve diabetes in hospital. It takes leadership and help from the people on the ground.”

He complimented the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit (NaDIA) and Gerry Rayman for helping the NHS to get the data of what actually goes in hospitals. He spoke on how, despite improvements and commitment from the NHS, inpatient diabetes issues continue to be a major issue to tackle. About 1 in 25 patients with Type 1 diabetes go into DKA while in hospitals because of not being given insulin. “This must and will change”, he said.

Dr Kar said every acute hospital in England should have an inpatient diabetes team, especially a Diabetes Inpatient Specialist Nurse (DISN), in order to improve inpatient diabetes care. He talked about the role of the inpatient diabetes specialist as an educator and support for other staff, whether the specialist concerned is a doctor or nurse. He also said specialists are spokespersons for patients. Partha said that there is a need for a relationship between CCGs, primary and specialists. For Dr Kar, this collaboration on the ground between specialist and generalist teams will be the key to change. When that relationship is there, good inpatient diabetes care happens.

To Dr Kar, it is possible to deliver care for all people with diabetes in a more effective and cost-effective way. But to do it, it requires strong clinical leadership and he complimented the work of Dr Patel and Dr Higgins in doing just that. He said it takes good leadership and a desire to improve on what we have, not rely on others to do so.

7. Questions and Group Discussion


After the speeches, Mr. Vaz opened the floor for questions. First to raise an issue was Jim Shannon MP. Mr Shannon spoke about the need for a United Kingdom strategy to fight diabetes. He shared how Ireland has the largest prevalence of Type 1 diabetes and said it is time all nations come together. He stated he wants to work better together with England on a national strategy for education and awareness raising.

Dr Jonathan Valabhji spoke next on the importance to reflect on the positive improvements in inpatient diabetes as well. He explained how while there are more people, and older people with diabetes in hospital, this is partly explained by the fact people with diabetes are being able to live longer lives. He said not every change will happen immediately or tomorrow, but the NHS is doing what they can.

Mr. Vaz finished the meeting by thanking all the guests and speakers. He said our expertise is the envy of the work and commented how all the evidence received orally and in written form will be part of a report to be published soon.


Report: Safety and Inclusion of Children with Medical Conditions at School

The APPG for Diabetes and the APPG on Epilepsy held a joint evidence session at the House of Commons on Wednesday 1st of March 2017 into the safety and inclusion of children with medical conditions at school.

Evidence was heard from parents Louise Taylor, Sue James and Sara Milocco; Professor Helen Cross, from the Great Ormond Street Hospital; Professor Simon Dyson, from De Montfort University; and Thalie Martini, Chair of the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance. Written evidence and comments were also submitted by over 300 parents, children, schools and healthcare professionals.

The full report can be downloaded here.

The duty to support children with medical conditions is clearly not yet known, understood or implemented by enough schools.

It is not acceptable to expect individual parents to have to advocate and argue for their child’s rights. There is a greater role for the government and education bodies to play to ensure the law is adequately implemented and enforced and that children receive the necessary support.

Schools need to be better informed about what is expected of them, what adjustments are required, and then reassured that the procedures they have put in place are correct.


Weekly diabetes parliamentary round-up

House of Commons Questions

School Milk – DH – Lucy Powell

Thu, 30 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the role of school and nursery milk in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.

Asked by Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the role of school and nursery milk in supporting the health of children in deprived communities.

Answered by: Nicola Blackwood Answered on: 30 March 2017

Where the school food standards apply, milk must be available during school hours and offered free to disadvantaged pupils, and free milk is also available to infants if served as part of their lunch.

As part of the Childhood Obesity Plan, the Government will publish and promote example menus for early year’s settings in England later this year. This will help settings to meet the latest Government dietary recommendations, including the consumption of milk and dairy products.

Health: Children – DH – Jonathan Ashworth

Thu, 30 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what data his Department and its agencies collect on the effect of childhood health on later life chances.

Answered by: Nicola Blackwood Answered on: 30 March 2017

Public Health England (PHE) track a number of indicators concerning health, wellbeing and behavioural and cognitive outcomes associated with life chances. This is via the Public Health Outcomes Framework and other profiles, in particular the child health profiles and the early years profiles.

These indicators include background factors, such as children in low income families, risk factors, (for example low birthweight at term), and protective factors including breastfeeding initiation. PHE also collect data on early years outcomes via the Ages and Stages questionnaire as well as later childhood outcomes.

There are also indicators on obesity, namely excess weight in four-five and 10-11 year olds. In terms of childhood health and life chances, obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk of developing various health problems (both physical and emotional /psychological), and are also more likely to become obese adults.

In addition, the Department funds longitudinal studies such as the millennium cohort study to track children through childhood and is supporting the roll-out of Routine Enquiry into Adverse Childhood Experiences. This will encourage people to disclose childhood adversity, which can lead to them getting the help they need sooner.

Department of Health – DH – Nic Dakin

Fri, 24 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether he plans to launch the Daily Mile nationwide in England.

Answered by: Nicola Blackwood Answered on: 24 March 2017

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that all children aged five-18 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

The Government published a Childhood Obesity Plan for Action in August 2016, which can be accessed here:

This plan states that for all primary school children, at least 30 minutes of physical activity should be delivered in school every day through active break times, Physical Education, extra curricular clubs, active lessons or other sport and physical activity events. Schools have the freedom to decide how to meet this expectation and which programmes, such as The Daily Mile, they choose to adopt.

Primary Education: Sports – DfE – Mr Jim Cunningham

Mon, 27 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate her Department has made of the proportion of primary school children who do not receive a minimum of two hours of sport and PE activity each week; and if she will make a statement.

Answered by: Edward Timpson Answered on: 27 March 2017

The Department does not hold that information, as the Government does not set a target for how much curriculum time schools must dedicate to Physical Education (PE) or specify the sports and activities that must be taught in schools.

PE remains a compulsory subject at all four key stages in the national curriculum, and we have given schools the freedom to deliver a diverse and challenging PE curriculum that best suits the needs of their pupils.

The Chief Medical Officer has stated that children should be active for 60 minutes a day (of which 30 minutes should be during school time), and we are supporting this through a number of initiatives, including the primary PE and sport premium.

Since 2013, we have invested over £600 million to improve PE and school sport in primary schools through the primary PE and sport premium. In an independent evaluation, 84% of schools reported an increase in pupil engagement in PE during curricular time and in the levels of participation in extra-curricular activities. Research has also shown that primary schools are on average now delivering almost two hours of PE to pupils each week since the introduction of the premium.

But we know there is more to do, which is why we will also be doubling the premium from £160m to £320m per year from September 2017, using money raised by the sugar soft drinks industry levy.

Soft Drinks: Taxation – HM Treasury – Dr Sarah Wollaston

Fri, 24 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has assessed the potential merits of using money raised through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to extend the free school meals scheme to (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries; and if he will make a statement.

Asked by Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using money raised from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to support (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries in accessing the Children’s Food Trust accreditation scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by: Jane Ellison Answered on: 24 March 2017 The Government has already confirmed that, in England, we will invest the £1 billion revenue we originally forecast from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy during this parliament in giving school-aged children a better and healthier future, including through doubling the primary school PE and sport premium and expanding school breakfast clubs. The Secretary of State for Education recently set out further details on this, including £415m for a new healthy pupils capital programme. The Department for Education will set out more detail in due course. Grouped Questions: 68234

MPs debate Preventing Avoidable Sight Loss

Tue, 28 March 2017 | Debate – Adjournment and General

NHS England had opted to allow vision services to be planned and delivered on a local rather than a national basis, MPs heard today.

Responding to a debate on preventing avoidable sight loss, Community Health and Care Minister David Mowat declared it “unacceptable” that 20 people a month were losing their sight due to preventable causes, and said that “we need to work collectively to address it”.

He also acknowledged the pressing character of this issue given the increasing elderly proportion of the population, discussing the significance of improving quality of life for the UK’s expanding population of seniors.

He pointed to the significance of other lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, and noted the importance of the upcoming Tobacco Control Strategy, which would feature specific targets by age group, as well as the existing Obesity Strategy.

Mr Mowat welcomed the impact of the new diabetic eye disease screening programme, which had resulted in “significant progress” in preventing this problem. When it came to other causes, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, he also referenced the significance of free sight tests at school and for elderly or high-risk populations.

The minister emphasised that treatment was led by CCGs, and noted significant regional disparities which he said suggested local commissioners in areas with particularly high levels of preventable sight loss ought to take action. He flagged the Public Health Outcomes Framework as a good guide in this respect.

Mr Mowat said that NICE guidelines must militate against any rationing of treatment, and promised to investigate why CCGs were not requiring opticians to refer patients to GPs, who would in turn refer onwards to hospitals and opthalmologists.

Discussing Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), he defended the fact that they did not all address avoidable sight loss by describing them as “a process, not an event”, and called on interested parties to continue lobbying local health leaders.

He also said that the same principles on waiting lists should apply to eye appointments as in other areas of NHS care.

Addressing calls for an eye strategy, he argued that this would not be a “panacea”, as shown by experience in Northern Ireland. “My preference is to work with NHS England and with Health Education England, if it is a question of getting more people into roles and all that goes with that”, he commented.

Responding for the Opposition, Shadow Community Health Minister Julie Cooper declared herself “shocked” at the lack of a national sight loss strategy, and called for health professionals to get better access to data; for local service provision; and for an emphasis on prevention. She also declared that STPs represented an “exciting opportunity” to address these issues.

Opening the debate, Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani highlighted her work on the APPG on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, as supported by the RNIB, and noted the statistic that half of sight loss could potentially be avoided.

She complained about the treatment of an individual who had initially been unable to secure the urgent medical attention she needed to preserve her sight, and lamented that NHS England “does not give eye health the profile it deserves”. She pointed out that sight loss was not subject to an NHS England strategy like those in place for hearing loss and dementia, and also expressed regret that the issue was not referenced in STPs.

She called for some “small changes to guidelines and legislation” such as allowing orthoptists to sign hospital eye service spectacle prescriptions, and pointed to the need for screening of children and efficient referral processes.

Health Committee – Government is missing important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity

Mon, 27 March 2017 | Commons Select Committee Press Release

27 March 2017

The Government needs to take more robust action to tackle the impact of deep discounting and price promotions on the sales of unhealthy food and drink, says the Health Committee in its follow up report into childhood obesity.

Given the amount of our food and drink that is purchased on discounts and promotions, the Committee is urging the Government to follow the evidence-based advice to create “a level playing field”. It was Industry representatives themselves, when giving evidence to the Committee, who explained that the current Government plans risk being undermined unless there is regulation. Retailers who act responsibly on discounting and promotions should not be put at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not.

The Government’s plan to tackle childhood obesity was published in August 2016. Although the Health Committee welcomes the measures the Government has announced on the sugary drinks levy, they are extremely disappointed that several key areas for action that could have made the strategy more effective have not been included.

Chair of the Health Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, says:

“We are extremely disappointed that the Government has rejected a number of our recommendations. These omissions mean that the current plan misses important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity. Vague statements about seeing how the current plan turns out are inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of this major public health challenge. The Government must set clear goals for reducing overall levels of childhood obesity as well as goals for reducing the unacceptable and widening levels of inequality.”

The Committee also calls on the Government to ensure that manufacturers pass on the cost of the levy to ensure that there is a price differential at the point of sale between high- and low- or no-sugar drinks. The Committee feels that this would enhance the effect of the levy in encouraging low or no sugar choices and that failure to pass on the levy would result in consumers having to cross subsidise high-sugar products.

The Committee has welcomed the tiered levy and recognises that this has already started to drive reformulation and further recommends that it be extended to include milk-based drinks with added sugar.

The report welcomes the Government’s positive response to the Committee’s recommendation that the proceeds of the soft drinks industry levy should be directed towards measures to improve children’s health including through increasing access to school sports and to breakfast clubs. The Committee will follow up how the income from the levy is distributed, including the ways in which this can help to reduce the inequalities arising from childhood obesity.