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Diabetes patients taking insulin need support to minimise risks, says NHS England

NHS England has called for support to be provided to all diabetes patients who receive insulin to ensure they use it safely.

This is one of the goals set out in “Action for diabetes”, which was published last week (10 January 2014) by NHS England and outlines its strategy for managing diabetes in 2014. It highlights the high rate of adverse incidents associated with insulin use in recent years and wants to ensure that, both in and out of hospital, the risk to patients is minimised.

The document is designed to be a resource for clinical commissioning groups and other stakeholders.

“It’s good to know the intentions of NHS England with regard to commissioning,” said Mark Stone, project pharmacist at Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee. “The document specifically makes reference to pharmacy, which is fantastic.”

Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for obesity and diabetes at NHS England, said that diabetes was a good example of why there needs to be new thinking about how to provide integrated services in the NHS in the future. “We are seeing huge increases in type II diabetes because of the rising rates of obesity, and we clearly need a concerted effort on the prevention, early diagnosis and management of the disease to slow its significant impact not only on individual lives but also on the NHS,” he said.

Mr Stone added: “Devon LPC has previously spoken with Professor Valabhji to raise awareness of what community pharmacy can do. He was supportive of pharmacy having a role in helping diabetes patients to get the best from their medicines and by providing healthy lifestyle advice.”

NHS England to produce sample service specification

NHS England says it is developing a strategic framework for commissioning to support primary care, including pharmacy, to provide high-quality services for patients with long-term conditions. In addition, a sample service specification will be produced for management of type I and type II diabetes, based on the standards produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Commissioners can use this as a model for integrated care and the delivery of high-quality services, says the document. 

NHS England also confirmed that health checks will continue to be rolled out in 2014, in partnership with Public Health England, as part of their strategy for tackling obesity. At the moment, not enough people with type II diabetes are receiving the basic health checks they need, says the document.

Action for diabetes states that, at the moment, for patients with type I diabetes, achievement of care targets is markedly worse than for those with type II diabetes. Furthermore, there is a big difference across the UK in the quality of care provided. However, it highlights that, overall, the UK has the lowest rate of early death due to diabetes, compared with the 19 wealthy countries in the Global Burden of Disease study in 2010.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11132776

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