New Commons Speaker Reveals Diabetes Diagnosis

Peter Russell

December 31, 2019

The new Speaker of the House of Commons revealed a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes but vowed it would not interfere with his demanding parliamentary role.

   

Sir Lindsay Hoyle - Credit: Parliament.uk

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who is 62, spoke of his shock at being told during the 2019 general election that, subject to confirmation from follow-up tests, he had the condition.

The diagnosis was revealed during an interview for a forthcoming TV documentary, Mr Speaker, in which cameras follow Sir Lindsay over the next few months as he adopts his new role.

Weight Loss Led to A&E Visit

He said that when confronted with a direct question concerning recent rumours about his health, he decided to reveal the details. He told ITV News that severe weight loss – losing almost 3 stone in as many months – prompted his wife, Catherine (Lady Hoyle), to book him an appointment to see a GP.

She had also noticed her husband's slurred speech and cloudy eyes.

Sir Lindsay insisted that during this time he felt well, and attributed weight loss to working long hours and frequently going without food.

"I'd frequently get up and eat breakfast, then have nothing until 9 or 10pm", he told Mail Online. "I'd keep myself going with several cans of full-sugar cola, which I now know is the worst thing I could be doing."

Following a blood test at his surgery, he said he was told: "You're on your way to A&E."

Hospital doctors told Sir Lindsay, who served as Labour MP for Chorley from 1997, that his ketones were "off the Richter scale" and that his condition was "very serious", and that he might need to be admitted.

He told doctors: "I'm in the middle of a general election, there's no way that I can stay here."

Sir Lindsay praised health professionals, including his diabetes nurse, for stabilising his condition and helping him through the election campaign, and the opening of Parliament, in which he formally assumed the office of Speaker.

In his television interview, he said: "Yes I have to take insulin every day, I'm having to inject; very hard for me but I think that shows not only can I do this job but actually it's to try and help others."

Former Prime Minister Theresa May also has type 1 diabetes. Sir Lindsay, who assumed the role of Speaker in succession to John Bercow after a vote of MPs, said: "She got on with the job – didn't affect her. In the same way I want to show people, yes I can do this job, yes I have a condition, but it's not going to stop me, it's not going to affect me."

Raising Awareness

Diabetes UK praised Sir Lindsay for using his profile and position to help raise awareness of type 1 diabetes. Chris Askew, the charity's chief executive, said: "Living with type 1 diabetes can be hard, but as Sir Lindsay's experiences have shown, with the right support from your healthcare team – and careful management – people can live full and healthy lives following their diagnosis.

"It's often thought that type 1 diabetes only affects children but, while it's less common to see someone of Sir Lindsay's age diagnosed, it can affect a person at any time in their life. That’s why knowing the signs and symptoms of diabetes – the four Ts – can be a life-saver.

"So if you're going to the toilet a lot, experiencing increased thirst, are more tired than usual, or losing weight without trying, you should speak to a healthcare professional."

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