Diabetes team shortlisted for coveted healthcare award

An innovative programme which has transformed the way patients with diabetes receive their care while in hospital has been shortlisted for a leading healthcare award.

The inpatients diabetes team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are one of seven teams from healthcare organisations across the country to be named a finalist in the ‘Diabetes Care Initiative of the Year’ category in the prestigious Health Service Journal’s Value Awards.

The Award, which is one of the highest accolades in the healthcare sector, recognises teams who enhanced the quality of diabetes care, in terms of both patient experience and improved financial value.

Supported by an NHS England diabetes transformation grant, the team have introduction a series of interventions that have significantly improved the experience of patients who were admitted to hospital because of their diabetes by helping them to maintain good levels of glucose control while in a hospital environment, which has in turn reduced their length of hospital stay and supported them to live as independently as possible after being discharged from hospital.

Initiatives introduced include the implementation of dashboard-based monitoring system to allow different groups of specialists to monitor the complex needs of patients, which can often be challenging to manage in a hospital environment, a virtual ward allowing for the sharing of knowledge between diabetes specialists, community nurses and GPs, a mobile inpatient diabetes pharmacy service to ensure the safe use of medicines and insulin, additional training and point of care testing.

Point of care testing has been shown to be particularly beneficial for patients with diabetes as prompt investigations can be carried out without the need for laboratory tests. As well as giving timely diagnosis, this information helps specialists to better manage and monitor patients while they are being cared for in hospital, supporting their independence and preventing subsequent hospital admissions.

The diabetes inpatient specialist nurses also worked in hybrid roles within GP surgeries and the community to increase understanding of best practice and helping patients to receive prompt input and care from the specialist team when referred to hospital.

As a result of these interventions, the team were able to review twice the number of inpatients with diabetes as they had previously and more patients with diabetes than the national average were able to maintain good glucose control while in hospital.

Fewer patients also suffered with hypoglycaemia, a condition that occurs when blood glucose levels drop too low and the length of excess hospital stay for those not undergoing elective surgery was reduced by over half a day. This saved 5,500 bed days over 12 months, or the equivalent of £1.2m per year.

Dr Rajiv Gandhi, Clinical Director & Consultant Physician at the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to have been nominated for this prestigious award. Around a million people with diabetes are admitted to hospital every year, and evidence shows that effective inpatient diabetes care can have a major impact on patient outcomes, reducing the likelihood of a lengthier hospital stay and supporting them to continue living as independently as possible after hospital discharge.

“By taking an organised and focused approach, we have managed to demonstrate substantial improvements in patient care over a very short period of time. These improvements are having a palpable impact on the experience of people with diabetes being admitted to hospital in Sheffield, resulting in fewer hospital admissions or readmissions, and helping to make substantial savings.”

The winners of the awards will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester on Thursday 23 May 2019.

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