People with diabetes inspired by local event


Over 100 people living with and caring for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes in North East Essex attended a motivational event on Saturday 12th May which encouraged them to learn more about their condition and how they can best manage their diabetes.

The event, titled ‘Diabetes and You’, took place in Colchester and was organised by the North East Essex Diabetes Service (NEEDS) which provides services for 19,000 people living with diabetes across the Tendring and Colchester area.

Sheila Smyth, Director of Community Care Services at Suffolk GP Federation, which runs the NEEDS service, said: “Since launching NEEDS in 2014, patient engagement has played a crucial role in shaping the service. Events like ‘Diabetes and You’ allow patients to provide us with feedback which we use to continuously improve their service.

“We would like to thank everyone who attended – we hope they learnt some useful tips and techniques to help them self-manage and feel more in control of their diabetes.”

Practical workshops at the event gave information about annual health checks, nutrition, foot health, dental health and exercise, while information stalls from local health services included Livewell, Health In Mind, Age Concern and Provide.

Father and sons Geoff, Anthony and Ian Whitington (also known as ‘Fixing Dad’) were amongst the guest speakers and shared their inspirational story of how family support helped overcome a battle with type 2 diabetes.

Geoff Whitington, guest speaker who has type 2 diabetes, said: “Fear and hope are crucial to better self-management of diabetes.

“You must have the fear that by not taking control of your habits you could be at serious riskand you must have hope to set goals and make positive changes to your lifestyle. My sons and family were crucial to this hope.”

Lorna Sainsbury, 47 from Mersea Island, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 20 years ago, said: “It’s incredible that there is still so much to learn about my diabetes.

“The workshops have been very useful and it has been a real eye-opener to talk to people who share the same challenges and experiences as me.”

Last year, Lorna took part in a type 1 structured education course DAFNE, which provided her with the skills to count carbohydrates and confidence to improve her diet.

Lindsey Oliver, Director of the Year of Care partnership, was part of the trailblazer group that introduced the DAFNE programme. Speaking at the event, she said:  “Diabetes patients on average spend around three hours with their GPs and devote 8757 hours to the self-care and management of their condition.

“Attending structured education courses and getting all the information you need through events like today, is essential for managing your diabetes effectively.”

“Patients in North East Essex are also entitled to a ‘year of care’ plan with their local GP, which sets clear self-management goals around their specific patient needs.”

The NHS contract for NEEDS has recently been extended until 2021, following significant improvements seen over the past four years. The annual checks, which are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), include blood glucose levels, Body Mass Index (BMI) and foot health.

The latest figures show 72% of diabetes patients in the region are now receiving their eight-recommended health checks each year, compared to 40.1% before North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group commissioned Suffolk GP Federation to deliver the service in 2014.

For more information about NEEDS and the courses available for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, which can be booked directly, please visit, email or call 0345 241 3313.