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Upskilled pharmacists take on diabetes roles in Colchester

By Editor
16th October 2018
East of England, Inpatient Pharmacy

A team of ward-based clinical pharmacists at Colchester Hospital have become ‘diabetes champions’ in a new initiative which is reducing medication errors. 

The diabetes team identified that the roles have the opportunity to optimise medicine management, prevent errors and ensure the accuracy of drug histories across the trust and wider community, but lack the advanced specialist knowledge required to confidently and competently support and treat complex people with diabetes.

In order to address a gap in clinical care, the traditional, specialist pharmacist template was revised and through upskilling the existing pharmacist staff, the role of ‘diabetes champion’ was created.

Three pharmacists were approached to pilot the scheme by the diabetes team, chosen because of their roles in high-risk clinical areas. These were the lead pharmacists for urgent care, care of the older people and surgery. Two of the three pharmacists were practising non-medical prescribers. Upskilling took place in collaboration with the North-East Essex diabetes service (NEEDS), with completion of the certificate in Advanced Management of Diabetes.

The pharmacists are now possessing the clinical practical skills and dealing with prescribing errors, optimising treatments and formulating a management plan as early as possible during the patient’s admission, error rates for the prescribing and administration of insulin and oral hypoglycaemic agents, as well as preventable hypoglycaemic and hyperglycaemic episodes, have reduced.  Due to the success of the scheme, it is now being expanded in orthopaedics, women’s services and renal medicine.

Louise Roberts, Diabetes Nurse Consultant leading the University of Essex course, said: “The project has allowed a seamless discharge service, having the pharmacy champions which has led to a reduction in delayed discharges. The increased interest from staff across the hospital, GP’s and community nurses wanting to attend our local diabetes course has been out-standing. Raising the profile on the whole diabetes service, safety issues around diabetes medications will only improve inpatient diabetes care.”

Adele Holcombe, Specialist Dietitian and NEEDS Diabetes Service Manager, said: “This kind of innovation is key to the NHS moving forwards, thinking outside the box and using existing resources has helped improve patient care in the redevelopment of the way diabetes is delivered in North East Essex and this project in particular is a fantastic example of collaboration working well.”

This scheme has been recognised nationally and has been shortlisted in the 2018 QIC awards.

In March 2017, we reported about how Philip Newland-Jones was appointed a consultant pharmacist in diabetes and endocrinology by Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust  in a landmark move designed to improve care by harnessing resources.

Picture: Lead Pharmacist Steve De-Giovanni discussing patient care with Emma Birbeck, Lead Inpatient DSN (NEEDS) and Gillian Bridges, Clinical Nurse Specialist for the deteriorating patient.

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