Diabetes Type 2

Communicating with healthcare professionals

Given that diabetes is a long-term condition that can eventually lead to other health complications, people with the disease will come into contact with many different healthcare professionals. Diabetes care is multidisciplinary so that it includes dietitians, podiatrists, opthamologists and pharmacists as well as nurses and doctors. Most people we talked to felt they were being well cared for by members of the healthcare team and felt satisfied that everything possible was being done to help them. 

Clinics and checkups with dietitians, podiatrists and optometrists were highly valued and some people said that finding out that they had problems with their eyes/feet had been a turning point in their understanding about diabetes. 

Primary Care teams
Most people we talked to were getting the majority of their care from GPs and specialist diabetes nurses. What really mattered to most people was being able to get appointments, and being given useful advice that they could understand and follow. Some people said they wanted to ask lots of questions and liked being able to discuss information they had found on the internet with their doctors and others wanted to feel they were being well cared for, and that their own views and experiences of diabetes were listened to with respect. 

Several people who had had diabetes for many years said that communication had improved. They appreciated the GP and nurses making an effort to give advice and support that met their specific needs. 

Some people had gone through periods of not controlling their diabetes well, which had made them quite sensitive to criticism. Several people described themselves as having been 'defensive' particularly in the early days. Some people, particularly those who felt they were not coping very well with diabetes, said they preferred to talk to the diabetes nurse for advice and support rather than the GP. A few people said they had not been given clear enough information about how to recognise possible complications when they arose. 

Some people liked a direct 'can-do' approach to diabetes, but didn't necessarily like it when doctors were too blunt. Several said they had felt shocked and upset when the doctor told them that they had 'lost years' of life because of diabetes. Some simply found doctors 'scary' or said they just couldn't think of any questions to ask. One man felt that his medical team moaned at him whatever he did and didn't appreciate the effort he was making to control his levels.

Several of those who said they had felt depressed or had experienced sexual problems said they had felt able to ask their GP for advice. Most were given medication to help overcome the problem, but had not been offered the chance to get any follow-up appointments for counselling or other kinds of psychological support. 

Hospital care
Some people we talked to were looked after by diabetes teams in a hospital setting and they preferred this care to that on offer through the GP. They felt reassured by seeing doctors who were clearly diabetes 'specialists', and generally liked being seen in the hospital where various different specialists and clinics are all under one roof. (See 'Care and treatment'.)

Last reviewed March 2016.

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