Diabetes: the team approach

By Philip Newland-Jones and Anna Hodgkinson, Consultant Pharmacists in Diabetes

People with diabetes need the support of a full multidisciplinary team more than ever, and utilising pharmacists trained in diabetes care are an essential part of this vision.

Statistics from Diabetes UK show that one person is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes every three minutes in England and Wales, and 500 people with diabetes die prematurely every week.  It is estimated that the NHS currently spends 10% or £10 billion of its annual budget on diabetes and its complications.

We know that over 65 year olds with Type 2 diabetes have on average six to seven other health concerns, often needing multiple medicines. Both the Long Term Plan and the NHS Interim People Plan recognise the value and impact pharmacists can have to improve outcomes for people living with long term conditions, including diabetes. This paper outlines a clear vision for pharmacy and the need for the NHS to utilise pharmacists alongside other healthcare professionals across all care settings to improve the care of people with Type 2 diabetes.

In the past, pharmacists have held a more traditional but key role in the management of diabetes, including being an integral part of improving medicines safety and supporting medicines optimisation. Over the past few years, recognising the skills and positive impact on care pharmacists can have both with individuals and at a population health level, we have seen a change in mindset. Increased numbers of pharmacists are now working in diabetes and Consultant Pharmacist posts have been developed. Although this is a start, as highly trained and skilled professionals, we know we can do more whether this is at a GP practice, care home, a community pharmacy, hospital, or Integrated Care System level.

The direction of travel for pharmacy in the management of Type 2 diabetes is clear. We have a huge role to play alongside our healthcare professional colleagues in improving outcomes for people with Type 2 diabetes, after all supporting people with diabetes needs the full multidisciplinary team more than ever.

We are excited for the opportunities that the RPS policy document, The Long Term Plan and NHS Interim People Plan will bring for pharmacy and we look forward to working with the profession over the coming days, months and years to promote and support the role of pharmacists within all care settings to improve outcomes for people living with Type 2 diabetes.

It is important to note that pharmacists cannot do this alone, we need the right environment for development, the support and mentoring from colleagues with experience in diabetes care such as practice nurses, diabetes specialist nurses, GP’s, specialist dietitians, podiatrists.  The only way we are going to be able to effectively tackle diabetes across all care sectors is to ensure this seamless teamworking and collaboration is encouraged and cultivated.

We’ve got two things to ask of you:

  • If you are a pharmacist, and you are interested in supporting people with diabetes then please ensure you have thought over what competencies you need to develop using the UKCPA Integrated Career and Competency Framework for pharmacists in Diabetes
  • If you are a healthcare professional working in diabetes in any sector of the NHS, think if your team would benefit from the support of a pharmacist, and if you work with a pharmacist embrace and support their development to ensure they are the best they can be for your team and your patients.

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