Employers are being urged to ‘Think Diabetes’ in the workplace in a new report launched by the Health Innovation Network at the Think Diabetes Summit in London.
Figures in the report show a major gap in the number of with people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes attending free structured educational programmes to help them learn about their condition and live healthier lives.
The Think Diabetes Report shows attendance figures are stubbornly low, with less than 8% of eligible Londoners living with Type 2 diabetes attending these courses, this figure is less than 9% of eligible people across England.
According to the report, reasons for people not attending education were varied, but cited ‘time off work’ has previously been cited as one of the key issues. Given the potential for employers to support staff with health and the impact work can have on managing long-term conditions, the Think Diabetes campaign asks employers to look at different ways of encouraging and supporting their staff to take up education opportunities.
The Health Innovation Network has partnered with Diabetes UK to deliver the Think Diabetes Summit, bringing together employers to discuss ways they can support their staff including; running education sessions in the workplace, sharing new digital approaches to education with their teams so staff can complete these courses online and by making sure staff are supported to take time off work for education to help them live with a long-term health condition.
Dr Neel Basudev, Diabetes Clinical Director of the Health Innovation Network, and GP in Lambeth, said:”Employers have huge influence over the lives of the working population and a unique opportunity to help with what is arguably the greatest challenge facing our nation’s health: diabetes.
“There are more ways for people to access vital education about diabetes than ever before, with many parts of the NHS innovating with digital courses and new approaches to offer support. We now need to raise awareness of what’s on offer and remove as many barriers as we can. Workplace barriers are some of the simplest to address and changes can be made to support staff that will increase the health and productivity of the workplace.
“We believe that employers can lead the way in making it easier for people to look after themselves and we’re bringing people together today at the summit to generate innovative new ideas for how this can happen.”
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Culture Minister Tom Watson MP self-managed his own type 2 diabetes into remission and chaired a session at the Think Diabetes Summit, said: “By changing my diet and lifestyle I’ve put my Type 2 diabetes into remission. I feel fitter, faster, and healthier than ever before and this has given me a new mission to help others get healthy.
“Supporting people who live with diabetes is a major challenge facing our society, and one in which we all have a part to play. Employers in particular can play a key role in supporting people in their journey to learn more about their condition, and how best to manage it.
“It is time employers think differently about diabetes in the workplace and the Think Diabetes Summit is bringing together key leaders from across businesses and organisations to do just that.”
Roz Rosenblatt, London Head of Diabetes UK, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Health Innovation Network to deliver the Think Diabetes Summit today. Bringing together some of London’s big employers at this unique event should just be the start of thinking about diabetes in the workplace differently. People spend significant proportions of their adult life at work. How diabetes is managed in workplaces therefore can have a major impact on people living with diabetes.”
Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: “techUK represents the companies and technologies that are defining today the world that we will live in tomorrow. I feel passionately that our members should also be leaders in supporting and developing the workforce for the future. Diabetes is an increasing problem in our society and employers should be engaging with innovative ways to help support staff living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to better manage their condition. techUK are delighted to be attending the Think Diabetes Summit and we hope to help spread awareness of ways employers can think differently about diabetes in the workplace.”
Diabetes is covered by the Equality Act 2010 as a long-term condition that has significant impact on individuals’ lives. Employers are therefore obliged to make reasonable adjustments, although these adjustments are not defined. The case for employers adjusting their policies and supporting individuals to attend structured education is overwhelming.