Significant improvements to diabetes care in West Suffolk.

Dr John Clark and Dr Jon Ferdinand
Dr John Clark and Dr Jon Ferdinand
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Partnership working between healthcare professionals has delivered significant improvements to Type 2 diabetes care in west Suffolk.

New figures show that more patients than ever before are getting the support they need to control their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. These are the three key indicators measured by the national NHS Quality and Outcomes Framework to identify local levels of diabetes care.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to unnecessary hospital admissions and, if left unchecked, a person can develop complications such as heart disease, stroke, visual impairment, kidney failure, and amputation of a foot or toes.

The improvement follows the introduction of a community diabetes service, which sees specialist hospital diabetes nurses working alongside general practice nurses in 19 west Suffolk GP practices to provide enhanced diabetes care to patients closer to home. The service, commissioned by NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (WSCCG), is delivered in partnership with West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

The west Suffolk area is now ranked at 81 out of 209 CCGs for diabetes care, with 61% of patients receiving the support they need, a figure which is now higher than the national average of 60%.

At the end of 2014 national data showed that the west Suffolk area lagged behind other areas in the country for the support available to diabetes patients. Fewer than one in three patients locally had recorded control of their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, ranking WSCCG at 209 out of 211 CCGs.

Dr Jon Ferdinand, NHS West Suffolk CCG, said: “It’s a remarkable improvement and although we recognise there is more work to do, this achievement shows how working together can result in improved outcomes for patients. We were determined to make the necessary changes and turn around our performance.

“We looked at how we could improve the level of diabetes support, working with patients and our healthcare partners. WSCCG had already commissioned a pilot community diabetes service in the Forest Heath area and we expanded that service to cover all of west Suffolk, with four specialist diabetes nurses from West Suffolk Hospital’s diabetes team now working in the community encouraging and advising patients in how they can better control their diabetes. The new service has improved communications between the hospital and community health professionals allowing more integrated working.”

Dr John Clark, lead diabetologist at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is very encouraging news for people with diabetes in west Suffolk. We are really pleased with the results which have been achieved as a result of the hard work of the hospital diabetes nurses alongside practice nurses and GPs together in the community.”