Laurence Barker, Volunteer Development Manager from Diabetes UK.

Laurence Barker, Volunteer Development Manager from Diabetes UK.


Laurence spoke to the Group on 27th August about the projects he has been involved with in the Eastern Region starting with a mention of the support relationship provided over three years by Tesco that has generated an amazing £20 million, a large proportion of which has gone into DUK’s selected research projects. Of the national projects operating in the Eastern region, the ‘living with diabetes days’ set up to help diabetics better manage their diabetes (one of which was held in Norwich this summer), have proved very successful, and again these have been made possible through Tesco sponsorship.

He has also had involvement with the Region’s ‘road shows’, set up to help identify people at risk of getting diabetes, and the Ramadan project designed particularly to help the south Asian community (who are 6 times more vulnerable to diabetes) cope with fasting through Ramadan. This relates to the need for religious exemption from the dawn to dusk fast, which, on long British summer days with no food or drink, creates a serious health risk for diabetics.

The other main focus for his talk was an explanation of Diabetes UK’s negotiating role with the changed legislation relating to driving licences for diabetics. These EU-wide legislative changes brought in stricter rules from November 2011 for diabetics on insulin, and, more controversially, on tablets such as the sulphonylureas that can cause hypos (hypoglycaemia). Having more than one hypo (defined as a hypo that needs the assistance of another person) during a period of 12 months will cause the diabetic driver to lose his or her license. It will also be revoked if  ‘a total lack of awareness (of hypos) occurs’, and diabetics have to sign a DVLA declaration saying they will undertake ‘appropriate blood glucose monitoring’, this involves testing before they drive & every two hours whilst driving.

Given medical evidence from a doctor of awareness returning or having no severe hypos (i.e. as above, those requiring assistance) occurring over the past 12 months, it is possible to go back to DVLA’s medical division for a re-consideration, if successful however this only provides a one year license. Also the renewal application form for diabetics that have had retinopathy in both eyes now includes the need for a visual field test.

Diabetes UK has lobbied for a fair assessment for diabetics, are opposed to any blanket bans, advised the DVLA on the legislation’s likely effect on doctor-patient relationships, and raised concerns over the delays in reissuing licences.

Full details of these changes and DUK’s involvement can be found on DUK’s main website.


Laurence kindly presented a thank you certificate to Bill and Janet Taylor for all of their hard work and dedication, along with Lee Mitchinson who was unable to attend on the evening, for organising and collecting at street collections in the local area raising over £10,000 for Diabetes UK.