WHEN I was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, I was warned by doctors, nurses and others at Northwick Park Hospital that the police often arrest diabetics suffering hypoglycaemic attacks (hypos) and throw them into cells for being drunk, ignoring evidence to the contrary and refusing requests for urgent medical attention.

In Harrow, at least, that warning should now be extended to cover councillors and council officers responsible for the mindless enforcement of parking regulations.

The treatment of diabetic driver John Turner by Councillor Susan Hall and her jobsworth staff (Harrow Observer, August 21) is both appalling and truly terrifying, for the message being sent to local diabetics is that they should ignore the medical advice and legal requirement and carry on regardless if they feel the early signs of a hypo while driving in the borough. Act responsibly to avoid harm to yourself and other road users and you risk being fined.

Ms Hall has leaped to the defence of her staff without taking the trouble to check the facts.

The early onset of a hypo is not feeling unwell, as she ignorantly asserts. Far from being unpleasant, it can be rather nice, a feeling of light-headedness and wellbeing, akin to the effects of a couple of pints.

But the effects of ignoring the warning signs can be deadly. A hypo can lead to irritability and aggressiveness, and even unconsciousness, three conditions in which, even Ms Hall must surely accept it is extremely unwise to drive - especially the last.

In extreme cases, the sufferer can fall into a coma which can cause brain damage or death.

Diabetics are, generally, allowed to drive - provided they have told the DVLA and their insurance company of their condition - but they are told to pull over immediately they feel the onset of a hypo and take urgent action to raise their blood-sugar levels, usually by taking glucose tablets or eating some fast-acting carbohydrates.

But in Harrow, according to the twisted logic of Ms Hall and her cronies, before acting to avoid brain damage or death, we must write a full explanatory note to a traffic warden and post it prominently on the wind-screen.

To reduce the risk of dying, I will now carry such a letter in my car so that should I suffer a hypo at the wheel I need only pause to dig it out of the glove compartment, place it on the dashboard and ensure it can be easily read by a warden before eating glucose tablets.

If Mr Turner had not followed the rules and pulled over, he could have caused the deaths of other road users, drivers, cyclists or pedestrians, let alone his own. But at least he would have avoided swelling the coffers of Harrow Council's parking enforcement department, which , I am sure, would have been great consolation to both himself and his innocent victims and their families.

A trust that, on reflection, Ms Hall admits publicly that she and her staff have been criminally ignorant in their handling of this matter, orders the cancellation of Mr Turner's fine, and returns his money, preferably with interest and compensation paid by her and her staff personally, rather than from the public purse. Perhaps she will also be moved to make a substantial personal donation the charity Diabetes UK, which has an active branch in Harrow.

I am sending a copy of your report to Diabetes UK with a request that it makes a formal complaint about Ms Hall and the council staff responsible for this appalling injustice.


Woodlands, North Harrow.