Diabetes does not affect everyone equally. Your ethnic group, where you live and your income all affect your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, the care you get for any type of diabetes and your long-term outcomes. Diabetes UK has made a commitment to tackle this inequality, both through our own work and by calling on others to do the same.
We have launched a Tackling Inequality Commission to view the multiple factors that contribute to health inequality through the lens of those most at risk of inequality in diabetes, namely those experiencing poverty as well as Black and South Asian communities.
Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said:
"People with diabetes experience systematic, unfair and avoidable differences in their diabetes, the care and treatment they receive and the opportunities they have to lead healthy lives. Diabetes does not affect everyone equally and the interactions between different kinds of inequality, and the factors that drive them, are often complex and interrelated. We also know that inequalities related to ethnicity and deprivation can lead to some of the poorest outcomes for people with diabetes.
However, inequality in diabetes is not inevitable. In January 2021 we launched our Tackling Inequality Commitments and over the past year we have worked with others to influence Government and champion the need for bold action to address health inequalities, to address the underlying causes of poor health and create healthier society. We have built trusted relationships at a local level with community organisations across the UK to develop collaborative partnerships. We have created a diverse community of people tackling inequality in diabetes through our Tackling Inequalities Lab and developed an action plan to improve research design and resources to address inequalities in diabetes care.
"I am delighted that we are now launching our Tackling Inequality Commission to help us evaluate all that we have learnt and connect with others doing the same to create a world where diabetes can do no harm."
Dr Faye Bruce and Professor Linda Bauld are our two co-chairs of the commission.
Dr Faye Bruce said:
"The coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic shone a light on ethnic health inequalities, as the disproportionate effect on Black and South Asian populations was shown clearly in nightly news reports. This inequality is neither new, nor confined to coronavirus and so I was very glad to be asked to co-chair this commission to help Diabetes UK build on their own work as well as have the opportunity to create a set of recommendations for other organisations.
The causes of ethnic health inequality are complex and there is variation between the outcomes for different ethnic groups as well as the overlying effects of deprivation, which is more likely to affect these communities. It is vital that we build on existing evidence of the factors influencing the disparities while undertaking that vital examination of the overall health and wellbeing of marginalised communities. In this commission we will listen to the experiences of underserved communities to understand how to include and support the drive to equity, fairness and improvements for all across our health and care system.
"There will not be a simple or single solution to the questions posed in this commission, so I am looking forward to developing a structured and long-term approach to drive ongoing change."
Professor Linda Bauld said:
"Our health is influenced by the conditions we are born, grow, live, work and age in – the wider determinants of health. These factors have a particularly strong influence on the risk of developing type 2 and gestational diabetes. They also influence our ability to access care for and rates of complications of all types of diabetes. If we wish to reduce the inequality seen within diabetes it is vital that we address these at a population level as well as seeking to mitigate their effects at an individual level. In order to do this we need to ensure the discussion around diabetes happens beyond clinical networks and settings, including social scientists, those working in local government and wider community organisations and people living with diabetes facing the day to day challenges that this brings.
"I am delighted to co-chair this commission. It will continue the work that Diabetes UK has started in seeking to narrow the gaps in health inequality and I look forward to hearing from such a wide range of voices who will contribute to the final report."
There are lots of ways to get involved with the commission's work and share your knowledge and experience with our panel. NHS England and Diabetes UK are working together to collect examples of good practice working with people living with diabetes affected by health inequalities. Take part by filling in our survey.
If you are living with diabetes and are part of the Black or South Asian community or a person experiencing poverty - join our communities in action group to hear about how to join in focus groups and other ways to tell us your story.
If you are from an organisation that supports people living with diabetes and would like to submit reflections or evidence on health inequality in diabetes to the commission, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.