It takes one to know one

Dr Bruce Chadfield (pictured) had just turned 12 when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.


The boy from a farm in northeast England couldn't have foreseen that hundreds of patients with diabetes now being bulk-billed at his Acacia Ridge National Diabetes Centre in Brisbane may be grateful for Dr Chadfield's lifelong experience with diabetes.


Dr Chadfield believes that living with the condition gives him a greater ability to engage with his patients.


"I can tell just by looking at some people where they are at. I think once you've experienced significant diabetic complications yourself you have clearer insights into how a patient may be feeling and how that's affecting their condition and lives."


When he was 15, Dr Chadfield's diabetes specialist suggested he become a doctor.


"The school careers advisor told me medicine would be far too difficult for me. That was like a red rag to a bull," he said.


"I became more focused on school work, achieving the required results and the Nuffield Prize for my biology research project, looking into the effects of exercise on the blood sugars of a type 1 diabetic."


Dr Chadfield said he "muddled" his way through Nottingham Medical School, not taking particularly good care of himself.


"Luckily I continued with long-distance running, which helped to control my blood sugars and slightly curbed any damage.


"However, falling asleep in the front row of the lecture theatre (due to a high blood sugar) while the Dean of the Medical School was giving an anatomy lecture landed me in a bit of hot water."


The athletic and fiercely competitive GP first came to Australia in 1984 for a holiday, then returned in 1986 for another great Australian bite, this time  with  a job driving around Melbourne as a night-GP locum.


"In 1992 the Australian Department of Health came back with a blanket "No" to me getting a permanent work visa because of my type 1 diabetes."


Love came to the rescue.


A year earlier, Dr Chadfield had met a Brisbane girl and they married in 1993. Dr Chadfield has been an Australian citizen since.


"After years of shift work and not looking after myself, I ended up in strife with nephropathy [diabetic kidney disease] and diabetic retinopathy [damage to the blood vessels in the retina of the eye]," he said.


"In terms of managing my diabetes, I pulled my head in just in time to be able to raise two wonderful children and continue working.


"However, I still have to live with multiple complications, especially the impact on my eyesight. After extensive laser treatment, I was left with very poor night and peripheral vision.


"My golf partners have to watch where I hit the ball."


Dr Chadfield started work at the Acacia Ridge practice in 1996, buying into the practice in 1998.


It is here that Dr Chadfield combines the wisdom born from understanding how people with diabetes feel with years of medical training to provide excellence in the treatment of diabetes.


"With my wife at my side as a Credentialled Diabetes Educator, a dynamic duo, we are able to provide a vast scope of diabetes management with a comprehensive individualised approach," Dr Chadfield said.


"This can include carbohydrate counting, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitoring, insulin titration, exercise management, weight loss and cardiovascular risk assessment."


The Acacia Ridge practice went on to become a member of the National Association of Diabetes Centres, supporting learning from other centres across Australia to achieve the best results for their patients.


The latest audit of the Acacia Ridge practice showed 28 per cent of patients with type 2 diabetes have an HbA1C under 6 per cent, while 70 per cent come in under 7 per cent.


Dr Chadfield is a big supporter of using technology to improve the health of people with type 1 diabetes.


"Wearing an insulin pump coupled with CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) makes a phenomenal difference," Dr Chadfield says. "I believe all people with type 1 diabetes should be given the opportunity to have a pump and CGM.


"I hope one day it is made affordable to those in need."


The good doctor's intentions match his work practices.


He opens his practice for extended hours and every weekend to accommodate the needs of working patients.


"We bulk bill every patient as we strive to help relieve the heavy financial burden of diabetes."


Dr Chadfield said more and more young people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.


"Many have work and mortgage commitments, so it's not easy for them to repeatedly take time off work to see a doctor, as people with type 1 know all too well."


He said that patients come to the practice having had diabetes for many years, often on large doses of insulin.


"This is where we come into our own. A combination of re-education, using your own individualised healthy eating and lifestyle concepts with the latest technology and, very importantly, wisely using the plethora of new medications for diabetes, has allowed us to achieve fantastic outcomes."

I'd like to read more about...

Click to see more or the + to add to your topics of interest

Articles just for you!

Get content tailored just for you through by choosing your topics of interest.

Choose Now >