Professionals
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With clinic doctors, front right, early 1980s (Leslie Duncan front centre)

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With clinic doctors, front right, early 1980s (Leslie Duncan front centre) With sons, 1973 Advising pregnant  woman, c 1975
With Simpson Maternity staff (front centre), 1980s Adolescent clinic, mid 1990s Judith Steel, 2007
 
 
Interview 66 Judith Steel

Associate Specialist in Diabetes
Born in Bingley, Yorks in 1940.


Overview: Judith Steel worked part time throughout her career. In 1972 she founded the Kenya Diabetic Association and in 1976 she began `probably the first pre-pregnancy clinic that was started anywhere` for women with diabetes, at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. She was Associate Specialist at the Infirmary from 1983 to 1994 and at Victoria hospital, Kirkcaldy from 1994 to 2004. She has published widely on diabetes and lectured to medical students at the Universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrew`s. She has also held office in several national organisations and in 1992 was awarded an MBE for Service to Diabetes

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 24 May 2007

 Short samples

1 As a student, she was inspired by Dr. Leslie Duncan and she later worked in his department at the Royal Infirmary. She remembers that his treatment of people with diabetes was ahead of his time in many ways, but also very eccentric. [ 58 secs ]

2 In the early 1970s, she examined 20 years of records from the Simpson Maternity Memorial Pavilion, (in the grounds of the Royal Infirmary), and decided to do something to tackle the high incidence of perinatal mortality and congenital malformations [ 63 secs ]

 
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01 Became interested in diabetes at Bradford Grammar School. Thought diabetes would combine with having children. Best lecturer at Edinburgh University, Leslie Duncan, lectured on adjusting insulin to diet.
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02 I asked if husband & I could attend his clinics. Saturday clinic included dogs! He was eccentric but loved.
Learnt about diabetes from course & clinics. Edinburgh clinic very advanced.
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03 Clinic kept own records. Tested urine with Clinitest tablets easy to make mistakes. Nightingale wards. Dr. Duncan encouraged patients to look after diabetes themselves.
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04 Husband & I spent year in Nigerian hospital. Then pre-registration year at Western General Hospital first ever married quarters. SHO in endocrinology. Had baby. Locum building up diabetic clinic at Western General. Second baby. Leslie Duncan arranged for me to do obesity drug trial & work in his Infirmary clinic.
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05 1971-2 - Kenya with husband. Nairobi diabetic clinic. Erratic insulin supply.
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06 Much diabetes. Many died, particularly Maasai. Kikuyu boy with diabetes helped as interpreter & educator.
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07 Returned to Royal Infirmary diabetic clinic. Learnt re dialysis. Acted as link with Prof Jim Farquhar at Children`s Hospital. I learnt from him. He learnt from me re pork insulin. He started Scottish association for care of young diabetic for paediatricians & adult physicians.
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08 1972-4 good children`s clinic dietitian, social workers, specialist nurse. Barnardos home for difficult diabetic children.
Farquhar learnt to use nurses from time in Africa & raised money for Kenya.
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09 Had third baby. Worked part-time in pregnancy clinic. Went through records of Simpson Maternity Memorial Pavilion high incidence of avoidable perinatal mortality. 1974-6 - started first pre-pregnancy clinic.
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10 Did family planning diploma to help diabetes patients.
During time at Simpson, greatly reduced congenital malformations.
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11 From 1974 - half-time jobs as registrar, then senior registrar.
Blood glucose monitoring commoner. Dr. Duncan had done it in 60s with Dextrostix.
New insulins. We used long-acting PZI & soluble like later basal bolus. Duncan used Metformin for Type 2.
Duncan advanced in checking diabetics in non-diabetic wards & using intravenous drip during surgery.
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12 1975-83 as Senior Registrar, involved with BDA. Children`s camps. Learnt from living with children. Did camp in Canada their system of exchanges more difficult than ours. Camps good for children.
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13 1983 - became half-time associate specialist. Started non-insulin-dependent clinic with education.
Meetings with psychiatrist re eating disorders associated with diabetes.
Started adolescent clinic.
Trained ambulance staff to treat hypos.
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14 Involved in St. Vincent Declaration. Became Chairwoman of SIGN. Chaired pregnancy group. Attended Charles Fox`s Northampton counselling course. Then helped run it. Have taught communication skills to students in retirement.
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15 1993 - husband got job in St. Andrew`s. I moved to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy smaller than Infirmary consultants knew patients. Harder work. Started special problems, pre-pregnancy & adolescent clinics. I learnt from DSN. Diabetes unit opened best I`ve seen.
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16 Interest in prevention of blindness. Ophthalmologist in Victoria clinic. Studied blindness in Fife found blindness preventable if people attend clinic.
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17 1996 BDA exchange programme with Bulgaria where people shocked by my disability & diabetic children hidden. I trained Bulgarian midwife.
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18 Reflections delighted when carbohydrate exchanges re-introduced. Great advances, especially healthy babies.
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Transcript
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