Dr Akram Khan
Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2007 came as a complete shock to Dr Akram Khan, clinical chair of Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a Barkerend GP.
Despite knowing all the signs and symptoms of diabetes, he put his feelings of tiredness and generally being unwell down to working too hard, skipping meals and an unhealthy lifestyle.
His symptoms came on suddenly and it was a nurse at his practice who suggested he might have diabetes. She did a test, which confirmed the condition, and then made sure he went to his GP.
The diagnosis was a big wake-up call for Akram to look after his health and he soon started losing weight, walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift and cutting his portion sizes – all things that have helped him control his diabetes and stay fit and well.
“Diabetes really did come out of the blue for me.” said Akram. “I’d never been seriously ill, so even though I had some of the classic symptoms of diabetes they were too vague for me to think anything was wrong.
“Looking back, I only had symptoms for a couple of months so I hadn’t had previous tests for diabetes and didn’t know I was at such risk. This is why our campaign is relevant for so many people in Bradford City who do know they are at risk and have the chance to do something about it – hopefully to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
“I would urge everyone who receives a letter from their GP to book a blood test so they can find out if anything’s wrong and start taking steps to change their lifestyle and look after their health. I feel well now, my diabetes is under control and I have a far healthier lifestyle – it’s not been easy to change, but my family has really supported me and as a result we’re all eating less pizza and moving around a lot more!”
A Bradford Beating Diabetes (BBD) champion, Lubna Khalid, has herself been identified at being at risk of developing diabetes because of medication she takes, following a kidney transplant three years ago.
“The campaign has certainly made me more aware of the things I can do to improve my health,” said Lubna, who is 38 and works at the Women Zone women’s centre, Leeds Road.
“I have stopped taking sugar in my tea and now I eat a lot more fruit and vegetables, as well as trying to exercise more. As a diabetes champion I am really looking forward to helping others make improvements to their lifestyle. Making changes is always so much easier when you have the support of others.”
Bradford GP Dr Kulpana Patel has been appointed as a BBD Clinical Champion. “I got involved because I wanted to improve my own knowledge of diabetes and because I was inspired by the Bradford Beating Diabetes campaign. Diabetes is a major problem and if we can work together to delay its onset in patients, then that has to be a good thing,” said Dr Patel, who works across two Bradford GP practices.
She added: “Diabetes is also something very close to my heart, as my grandfather suffered from Type 2 diabetes and sadly died, age 70 as a result of complications. He had lost the sight in one eye and had advanced kidney disease. My uncle also has Type 2 diabetes and is on insulin.
“I think it’s vital that we raise awareness of diabetes and try to help as many people who are at risk, as possible.”
Bradford mum-of-three Mumtaz Mansha, who was found to be at risk of diabetes, told NHS Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body how being diagnosed was a wake-up call which encouraged her to make small changes to her lifestyle that can have a huge impact on her health and wellbeing.
Mumtaz’s wider family – including her dad, aunties and uncles – has a history of diabetes so she was invited by her GP practice to attend for diabetes screening. When she was found to have a raised blood glucose level she was offered a place on the diabetes prevention programme.
“I was shocked and scared when the doctor first told me I was in the pre-diabetes stage and, on his advice, made some fairly immediate changes to my lifestyle – including starting a strict diet and going to the local ladies-only gym,” said Mumtaz.
"It was hard to resist the temptation of my favourite food though – especially sweets and takeaways – so joining the prevention programme helped me to find the long-term motivation that I needed.”
Mumtaz joined a prevention programme group near her home, led by BBD health coach Nazneen Baksh. With encouragement from the group, she has changed her eating habits and her children are following her lead by changing theirs too.
“Having the right mind-set is important;” said Mumtaz “and the prevention programme helped me to gain that. I have understood more about diabetes, its potential complications and how it can be prevented. I’m more aware of what to avoid, and what to do differently to stave off what would otherwise have been inevitable.”