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3 December 2020

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals praised for helping women with diabetes improve health during pregnancy

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been highly commended in a national awards scheme after helping more women with diabetes better manage their care needs before becoming pregnant and reducing their risk of diabetes-related pregnancy complications.

The ‘Improving pre-pregnancy care for women with diabetes: a community focused strategy’ saw uptake of a daily folic acid supplement among women with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes soar to nearly 50% just before the pandemic. This compares to 22% in 2018, a figure which had remained more or less static since 2014.

In Sheffield, up to two-thirds of pregnant women living with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, or the most common type of diabetes. In addition, more and more people under the age of 40 are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, meaning the number of young women with the condition who are of child-bearing age is set to increase in the future.

Women with diabetes have a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications, including birth defects, due to high glucose levels.

The project was led by Dr Soon Song, Consultant Physician and Diabetologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, and was one of three entries shortlisted in the annual PrescQIPP Innovation Awards’ Working Across Integrated Care Systems category. The awards are open to health care organisations across the country.

As well as arranging meetings with community pharmacists, health trainers, link workers and practice nurses who have contact with women living with diabetes, posters and small business cards were distributed to all GPs and community pharmacists. Regular three-monthly reminders were also sent to highlight the importance of pre-pregnancy care via a weekly e-bulletin. Patient information leaflets and a safety checklist were also developed. This information was then incorporated as pop-up reminders into the electronic system used by GP practices This collaborative work was made possible through positive engagement with Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, Sheffield Local Pharmaceutical Committee and Sheffield City Council.

Hard to reach groups, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds and those under the age of 40, were specifically targeted in the campaign as these are groups where diabetes prevalence is high and increasing.

Dr Soon Song, Consultant Physician and Diabetologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Diabetes UK Clinical Champion, said: “We are delighted to have received this prestigious national award which is excellent recognition of how we transcended medical boundaries in primary and secondary care for the benefit of women living with diabetes.

“The steps to improving pre-pregnancy care in women with diabetes are very simple, and with prevalence of diabetes rising in younger women who are of a child-bearing age, it was important that this novel approach was taken. We encourage all women to look after their health and that of their unborn child by taking the recommended daily dose of folic acid.”

The work was chosen to be presented at the National Diabetes in Pregnancy UK Conference in November 2019 and published in Diabetic Medicine in July 2020.

Key clinical leads included Dr Soon Song, Consultant Physician and Diabetologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Charlotte McMurray, Pharmacist Team Leader at Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, Claire Thomas, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at Community Pharmacy Sheffield, Sallianne Kavanagh, Diabetes Pharmacist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Dr Jenny Stephenson, GP Diabetes Lead.


Photo: Dr Soon Song who led the project

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