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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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."