Making excellent diabetes care an integral part of general practice is something all primary care staff should take responsibility for.
This Diabetes Week, 14-20 June, I'd like to take the opportunity to urge fellow health professionals to take another look at how they and their practice cares for patients with diabetes, whether they have a special interest in diabetes or not.
Putting the fundamentals of diabetes care in place is key to success. In my practice, we have an effective check and recall system to help ensure people do not get missed. You cannot make patients attend appointments but you can give them compelling reasons to do so. A follow-up letter to a missed appointment outlining the seriousness of the condition and the risk of complications can be extremely persuasive.
Getting an in-house diabetes clinic up and running can make a big difference for patients. I know there isn't always the impetus from a clinician to prioritise diabetes care but don't let that stop you from asking. At some point, the closed door will open and you will get the buy-in you need to run a group education clinic. The arrival of a new member of staff with a can-do attitude can often make all the difference.
If you have an assistant practitioner or healthcare assistant, then use them wisely. In our clinic, they carry out a lot of the measuring and recording such as blood pressure or weight. This allows me to discuss the results and decide how best to manage the patient's condition. Patients often have comorbidities and I feel it is important for me to care for the patient holistically rather than just ticking boxes. The outcomes support this approach.
Practice nurses can also take personal responsibility for keeping up to date with what is happening in diabetes care by joining Diabetes UK's primary care network. It's free and you will receive a monthly e-newsletter. There is lots of other information available, including short video tips and hints.
To join Diabete's UK's primary care network, sign up online at: www.diabetes.org.uk/pcn
Lynne Priest, practice nurse, East Lancashire