Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that she is suffering from type 1 diabetes. I had an inkling that she was ill. A friend of mine lives in her constituency and she sees her regularly at civic functions. She'd commented on the recent weight loss and asked if I'd picked up any hints. Strangely enough, I had heard one thing. A reasonably influential Tory, who I know had been at lunch with Ms May and had commented that she "seemed to be on a faddy diet". He had drawn all of the wrong conclusions. Interestingly enough, when he told me of how she was seemingly avoiding random items on the menu and being fussy, I too had drawn the wrong conclusion.
My own experience of diabetes is limited to my mum's ex partner. He has suffered with the disease for many years. He has managed it reasonably successfully most of the time, but his desire to keep his blood sugar low, caused many scares when he'd simply keel over. He broke his neck on one such occasion. On another occasion, my mum frantically called me. He'd gone to get fish and chips and disappeared. I found him outside the King Neptune, in the car with the Engine running, completely gaga. A bit of lucozade and he was right as rain. I couldn't understand why he took such risks, keeping his blood sugar on the very minimum it could safely be. He explained the long term risks of letting it get out of hand, and I realised that he wasn't simply being awkward.
I also hadn't realised that Councillor Robert Rams is a diabetic. He has published an open letter to Theresa May on his blog. If you are a diabetic, or live with one, it is well worth a read - http://robertrams.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/dealing-with-diabetes-an-open-letter-to-theresa-may/ - I believe that the more we discuss our health issues and strategies for dealing with them, the better we can deal with them. There is much I disagree with Cllr Rams about, but this is an insightful and useful blog on his part.
Perhaps the most interesting line in the blog is this - "Don’t ever go private! The best diabetes care is on the NHS – and my doctor is proof of this!" - like many people Councillor Rams has recognised the true value of the NHS when the chips were down. I think that ultimately the reason why rabid rightism will never truly destroy our society is because like Councillor Rams, we realise that if we need medical treatment, the NHS is the best option.
I hope that Cllr Rams takes a step back and considers an interesting point. As he concedes that the NHS delivers a better quality of care for his diabetes than the private sector, giving him peace of mind, maybe he should also consider the peace of mind of the many people in Barnet struggling with the effects of outsourcing on their lives and the lives of disabled and special needs relatives. The Your Choice Barnet fiasco has thrown into sharp focus the effects of the outsourcing on vulnerable people in Barnet. Councillor Rams is more than happy to have the peace of mind that the publicly funded and delivered NHS gives him. I thank the Lord that they do. All I ask Councillor Rams, who has shown that he can see the wood from the trees, when it suits him, that he afford other people in Barnet the same respect. I don't believe that a civilised society should force anyone to lose sleep over the care of them or their loved ones. When Robert Rams implores us "Don't ever go private" on his blog, for once I thoroughly agree with him. I sincerely hope the Home Secretary takes his advice and I would be even happier if the rest of the coalition heeded it as well.
Last week, one of our local Tories was teasing me. They know that Councillor Rams and myself share a degree of antipathy, perhaps only matched by Brian Coleman. They said "What would you do if Robert Rams had something sensible and useful to say". They suggested that hell would freeze over before I would commend him. Well how wrong they were. The Barnet Eye is always prepared to praise people when they say sensible things. In fact it is far more powerful when someone like Robert Rams states that the NHS is superior to a private health service, because he is clearly being honest and pragmatic. Lets hope that he gets lots of praise for his intervention and that he realises that if you are honest and talk sense, people will respect you and listen to what you have to say.