19 May 2017

Sheffield Hospitals wins national diabetes prize

Pharmacy-led initiative praised by for empowering patients to continue to inject their own insulin while in hospital

AN INNOVATIVE scheme helping more patients with diabetes continue to inject their own insulin while in hospital, improving the timing of doses and giving better glucose control, has won a highly sought after diabetes prize.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was named as joint winner of the prestigious Rowan Hillson Insulin Safety Award for supporting insulin-treated patients to continue to have safe access to their insulin at all stages of their hospital care unless there was a specific reason for them not to.

Patients with diabetes have the greatest expertise about managing their own condition and routinely monitor and adjust their doses at home, however, in a hospital environment this is a complex process and involves ensuring there are robust processes in place to safeguard patients.

Working with the diabetes team, the pharmacy team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation created a dedicated diabetes pharmacist role to support insulin safety in hospital, including the national agenda to enable insulin-treated patients to have safe access to their insulin were met.

Firstly, a dedicated diabetes pharmacist post, funded by Health Education England and the Trust’s pharmacy department, was created to support the strategy. The pharmacy then worked closely with the Trust’s Medicines Safety Committee to understand the risks in restricting access to insulin self-management in patients where there was no specific reason not to allow them to continue controlling their own blood glucose levels as they would at home.

They also worked with staff to educate them about the importance of insulin self-management in insulin-treated patients and undertook a series of patient focus groups to explore how good blood glucose controls could be affected by meals and insulin not been given at same time in a hospital situation and barriers to insulin self-management that arose as a result of storing patients’ insulin in lockable cabinets. Audits and snapshots assessments were also undertaken, as well as an analysis of data about incidents arising from insulin mismanagement.

Sallianne Kavanagh MRPharmS IP, MSc Clinical Pharmacy, lead pharmacist for Sheffield Teaching Hospital’s diabetes and endocrinology teams, said: “We are delighted to have been named joint winners of this prestigious award. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, and people are taught to monitor their glucose and adjust their insulin doses on an ongoing basis. Continuing to do this in a hospital environment has been highlighted as best practice in national guidelines and through this pharmacy-led project we have been able to support this as much as possible and when there isn’t a specific reason not to.

“We worked closely with our patients and our Medicines Safety Committee to find out what was important to in terms of insulin control in a hospital environment, and what practical measures we could do to support them to continue to look after their own insulin when there was no specific reason not to.

“Our pharmacy and diabetes team have a really good relationship, so this is great recognition of the work we are doing and the difference teamwork can make to patient care.”

The awards are named after Dr Rowan Hillson, who is internationally renowned for her work with people who have diabetes, and are run by the Joint Diabetes Societies for Inpatient Care, one of the UK’s leading diabetes societies

Dr Hillson said: “I would like to thank everyone who submitted entries and all those who developed and participated in the projects across the country. There is no doubt that the work done by these teams and all their colleagues in their local hospitals is driving improvement in the care of people with diabetes and for patients who are given insulin to lower unduly high potassium levels. There is much to commend and a great deal of expertise and enthusiasm to share nationwide.”

The submissions were judged by an independent panel chaired by Dr Rowan Hillson against predefined criteria.

The team were presented with their award at the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists’ spring meeting in Belfast on 10 May.


Photo: The team with their award outside the diabetes centre at the Northern General Hospital

From left to right: Amie Bain (Academic Pharmacist Practitioner) Cheryl Smith (Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Vanessa Demetriou (Diabetes Support Worker) , Clare Nelson (Inpatient Diabetes Specialist Nurse), Sallianne Kavanagh (Diabetes Pharmacist), Dr Rajiv Gandi (Consultant Physician), Sarah Humphries (Inpatient Diabetes Nurse Specialist), and Dr Jackie Elliott (Senior Clinical Lecturer in Diabetes & Honorary Consultant)

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