By the time you read this piece, following the November conference of the PCDS in Birmingham, my second term as Chair of the Society will be complete and David Millar-Jones will be leading our preparations for 2013 and beyond. He takes on the privilege and tasks of working with one of the most constructive, supportive and industrious groups of people I have ever been fortunate enough to know.
Our first national conference in 2005 followed rapidly from the formation of the PCDS. Until that time, a primary care working group comprising a full variety of professionals working in our field existed within Diabetes UK (DUK). This itself had come about following the creation in the mid-1990s of “Primary Care Diabetes UK” (PCDUK), a group committed to raising the profile and standards of practice within diabetes services as general practices became ever more involved in the clinical management of these conditions.
Around the turn of the millennium, PCDUK joined with Diabetes UK, taking many of its key personnel into the DUK primary care committee. However, major changes in the DUK structure and working practices just a few years later involved the dissolution of speciality groups for both primary and secondary care clinicians, both of whom saw the need to fill the resulting gaps. The Consultants’ group, the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists (ABCD), formed somewhat in advance of the PCDS, our founding “steering committee” starting work in 2004. Led by Colin Kenny, who continues to work with the PCDS as Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes and Primary Care, that steering committee worked towards that first national meeting in November 2005, at which we formally established the society and elected our first full committee from those present.
From the beginning, the aims of the PCDS have been to provide support and professional education for all involved in the care of people with diabetes within primary care, in order to raise the standards of practice. The Society, and its committee, are determinedly multidisciplinary, reflecting the collaborative and multi-skilled nature of primary care. We are incomplete without nurses, GPs, dietitians, podiatrists and pharmacists – indeed, the committee includes a significant number of members who combine their professional roles with having the experience of diabetes themselves.
From that first conference, where the uncertainty as to the response we would receive from potential members was rewarded with an attendance of at least twice that of our most optimistic estimates, we have enjoyed a close collaboration with SB Communications Group. To run the Society, we require a journal, meetings and conferences, as well as a membership secretariat and, increasingly, a lively and interactive website. Simon Breed (SB) and his company have been with us throughout our journey, and I am delighted to write that we have recently formalised the continuance of that collaboration. From those uncertain beginnings, we have built a successful programme of meetings, both large and small. A more recent development has been the formation of national “sub-committees” in Scotland, Wales and Ireland (where we include both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland). This not only brings our meetings and activities closer to members, but reflects the increasing divergence between health services in our countries.
In Diabetes & Primary Care, CPD modules are now being re-written and re-published aiming to update us with the knowledge needed to underpin good practice. Perhaps less obviously, members have taken on advocacy and advisory roles working with many bodies including the Government and NICE. We maintain collaborative relationships with Diabetes UK, ABCD, NHS Diabetes, the Scottish Diabetes Group, Royal Colleges and other key stakeholders, as well as internationally with Primary Care Diabetes Europe.
It has been an honour to oversee the work of PCDS and its committee as Chair since our formation. I have met and worked with great people both within and alongside the PCDS. Seldom can committees have worked so cohesively and thus achieved so much in such short times together.
As to the future, the PCDS seeks to play a constructive and assertive role in the future development of diabetes services as a large organisation whose membership contributes so much. We continue efforts to help practitioners to improve our own standards through professional development. The website Diabetesonthenet.com, is now an increasingly integral part of that service. Also, our research committee, led by Kamlesh Khunti, seeks to widen the scope of diabetes research in primary care. There are huge opportunities here. We all learn from wide-ranging and high-quality research, but there are also great chances for us to contribute to that research. Watch out for requests to become involved and you may enjoy the experience of research under expert guidance.
So as I move on to continue other work within the PCDS and elsewhere, I feel an urge to thank individuals for these past 7 years, and beyond that to all who have been involved from the first days of PCDUK. There are however too many to name, even if I were to try to select the “key players”.
So I hope that my sincerest thanks will be acceptable to all whom I have worked alongside, and to all who have supported the PCDS. There is a challenging but exciting future ahead. It is a great feeling to know that the PCDS has David as our new Chair, and that he can rely on the same superb support that I have felt as we all work together for a better future both for people with diabetes and those who support them.