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Frontline doctor to lead UK diabetes strategy

Published on 07/03/08 at 11:18am

Dr Rowan Hillson has been appointed the new national clinical director for diabetes.

Dr Hillson is a consultant physician and diabetologist at The Hillingdon Hospital in London, where she and colleagues have established a highly successful local diabetes service.

The post of national diabetes 'czar' was first created in 2003, and has been held since then by Dr Sue Roberts.

Diabetes diagnosis and treatment have been identified as key targets for the NHS in recent years, and spending on infrastructure, services and drugs has increased rapidly. Despite this, services vary greatly across the country.

Key to ensuring that diabetes patients maintain good blood sugar levels is to ensure they can manage their condition themselves, but a recent poll shows doctors are concerned that the health service is not supporting patients enough to achieve this.

Sue Roberts is retiring from both from her post as a consultant with Northumbria NHS Trust and as national clinical director for diabetes, and an expert panel - including a patient with diabetes - selected Dr Hillson as her successor.

Dr Rowan Hillson said: "I am honoured to have been selected for this exciting role. The importance of good diabetes services cannot be underestimated, and I look forward to working with both people with diabetes and health professionals to continue to improve diabetes care nationally. I'd also like to thank The Hillingdon Hospital for their support."

Dr Hillson is also the author of several books for patients about diabetes and thyroid disorders. She will work on a part-time basis to allow her to keep practising medicine on the front line two days a week.

Health minister Ann Keen said: "I am delighted to announce Dr Rowan Hillson's appointment as the new national clinical director for diabetes. Rowan's clinical and managerial experience will be invaluable as we continue to drive forward improvements in diabetes services.

"We have made tremendous progress since we first set out our national standards for diabetes care. In the last two years, an additional 200,000 people with diabetes have been identified, and improvements have been made in clinical indicators such as blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.

"I know that, as clinical director, Rowan will continue that sterling work and use her skills and experience to make a real difference for people with diabetes."

There are an estimated 2.3 million people with diabetes in England. This is predicted to grow to more than 2.5 million by 2010 - 9% of which will be due to an increase in obesity.

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