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NHS England confirms sector's role in national diabetes scheme

The programme will run in seven pilot sites before rolling out nationally next year, says NHS England

Pharmacists will play a "very helpful" role referring patients and providing feedback for a national prevention programme, says NHS England

Pharmacists will play an “important role" in referring patients to a national diabetes prevention programme, C+D has learned.
NHS England said it would ask pharmacists to provide referrals and give feedback in the preventative scheme, which will roll out across seven pilot sites this year. The scheme will be extended across the country in 2016, and NHS England said it should "significantly reduce" the four million people predicted to develop type 2 diabetes by 2025.

“The delivery team will gather views of pharmacists on referrals, risk levels, programme design and follow up. Their views and understanding of their customers will be very helpful,” NHS England said when announcing the pilot sites on Wednesday (March 11).

NHS England first announced the scheme as part of its Forward View into Action in December and told C+D in January it could not confirm what role, if any, pharmacists would play.

 The commissioning body revealed this week that seven "demonstrator sites" - consisting of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities - would target up to 10,000 people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes through schemes that focused on weight loss, physical activity, cooking and nutrition, and support from trained professionals.

'Pinpointing' at-risk patients

The sites would also test new ways to “pinpoint” people at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as a programme in Bradford to target South Asian patients aged 25 and older, NHS England said.

The initiative has been co-designed with Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK. PHE had commissioned two evidence reviews to support the development of the programme, which would be published in early summer, NHS England added.

Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young said “thousands of people” could benefit from the pilot schemes in the next 12 months, and the results would be “even more spectacular” when the programme was rolled out nationwide.

In January, pharmacists told C+D they backed NHS England's plans but said the programme's success depended on the sector's involvement.

The seven demonstrator sites are:

  • Birmingham South and Central CCG
  • Bradford City CCG
  • Durham County Council
  • Herefordshire CCG/LA
  • Medway CCG/LA
  • Salford CCG/LA
  • Southwark and Lambeth councils and Southwark CCG


What other roles could pharmacists take on in the programme?

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Mustafa Bhaiji, Superintendent Pharmacist

"Sucker punch" is a good way to describe the above initiative as mentioned by Brian Austen. And a good description for the people who have agreed to do this is "muggins". I think all pharmacies should apply for charity status because that is what NHS England want from us. Or perhaps our capabilities are so poorly regarded that they cannot justify any kind of payment without us proving that we can deliver the results first. In any case, I think the organisers the the relevant LPCs in the pilot sites should negotiate some kind of payment otherwise the scheme will be doomed for failure even before it starts.

is it just my cynicism or are NHS England under the impression that pharmacy is part of the charity sector?

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Very vague indeed. Looks like anything pharmacists might do would be for no additional payment. I wonder what will happen to GPs in those areas? This is what Pulse says.... Exclusive NHS chiefs are planning to introduce incentives for GP practices to carry out targeted screening and follow up of patients at high risk of diabetes, under the new national prevention programme announced this week. Pulse can reveal that the new drive, aimed at curbing the growing incidence of type 2 diabetes, will see practices paid to create a register of patients at high risk of going on to develop diabetes and for reaching targets on follow-up interventions. The national diabetes prevention strategy, led jointly by NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, will see at-risk patients receive free cooking classes and Zumba on prescription and is set to be rolled out nationally from April next year. In the meantime, seven pilots have been set up to assess ways to identify people at risk, for example through GP practice-run schemes and the NHS Health Checks programme, as well approaches to help people lose weight and normalise their blood glucose. So looks like extra money for GPs. NHS England obviously value their input but don't feel ours is worthy of payment. Where have I heard this before?

Brian Austen, Senior Management

If anything this very vague article points to a limited role in the referral process, not an 'important' role, for example a primary care prevention clinic. If my interpretation is correct its another 'sucker punch' to pharmacy by NHS England/CCGs/PHE while those organisations representing pharmacy look on!

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