LAST Saturday I launched a public health campaign in Feltham and Heston constituency, to call for us to do more locally to lead the fight against diabetes and heart disease.
Supported by the British Heart Foundation and magazine Health and Happiness 4 You, over 150 local people joined the ‘Feltham and Heston Health and Happiness Day’. My thanks also to diabetes charity Silver Star and Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust for their support for the day.
Speakers included Cllr Jagdish Sharma MBE (Leader of Hounslow Council and Chair Hounslow’s Health and Wellbeing Board); Martin Hughes (Health Improvement Manager, HRCH NHS Trust); Qaim Zaidi (British Heart Foundation); and Vijay Rana (Editor of Health and Happiness 4 You).
This is a life-saving campaign. Research shows that in Hounslow we have higher rates of diabetes and coronary heart disease compared with the rest of London, with lower rates of physical activity. Even more concerning is research which suggests that 29% of people in Hounslow who have heart disease are undiagnosed and not receiving treatment, and that an estimated 3,000 local people have undiagnosed diabetes.
This is a deadly combination, which results also in additional strain on our local health service, and earlier death for loved ones in our local families. With such high levels of undetected diseases it is not surprising in Hounslow the rates of heart-disease related emergency admissions and operations are higher than the rest of the country, and that the amount being spent by the NHS in Hounslow for the treatment of diabetes has risen from £4.3m to £6.7m over the last three years.
I welcome this rise in spending, but we must also have a greater public focus on early detection and prevention. Our local doctors and nurses do great work in responding to acute emergencies, but more of these can be avoided with better early detection. With A&E departments across West London under intense pressure because of Government cuts, closures and staff shortages, it can then take longer to get the help patients need.
From the campaign launch on Saturday it is clear that there is a real appetite to raise awareness and suggest alternative foods and lifestyle to give everyone the best chance of a long, happy and healthy life. Over 100 people had free immediate health tests, tested by experts for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and fat. The afternoon session saw over 50 people trained in CPR.
Initial results suggest that 25% of residents who were tested for diabetes on the day were found to have some signs of the disease, and have been advised to visit their GPs for further tests. For continued success, we need local health and wellbeing boards to work more with the community to raise awareness of diabetes and heart disease, encourage people to change behaviours, and reduce the likelihood of diseases becoming deadly. Too often we hear stories of how undetected and therefore unmanaged diabetes has led to kidneys problems, limb amputations and other illnesses.
By working together we can have a healthier Hounslow, but it needs the back-up of well resourced public health service and a national Government led strategy. Too often it is prevention strategies that get cut back first, but if last Saturday’s event showed anything, it is that we are just scratching the surface of the challenge that faces us.