Care programme leads to fewer hospital admissions

A PROGRAMME to help diabetics manage their disease has led to a decrease in complications and in fewer hospital admissions, an audit of the service has shown.

However, smoking and obesity continues to present major challenges to the provision of care.

The Diabetes Structured Care Programme, delivered through 35 GP surgeries in Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath, has led to:

nImproved blood pressure levels among patients.

nImproved cholesterol levels.

nA halving of marcovascular (large blood vessel) complications since 2003

The audit, which focuses on more than 1,000 out of 3,700 patients taking part in the programme, also found that 56.5% of patients were male, the average age was 65 years, patients had diabetes for on average six years and nine out of 10 had type 2, the more common, non-insulin dependent, form of the disease.

Dr David Weakliam, a consultant in public health medicine in the Midlands, said diabetics who continue to smoke or are obese were at greater risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease or foot ulcers.

“These types of complications are much more likely to occur if there are additional health risks,” Dr Weakliam said.

He also said real progress had been made in managing the disease in patients participating in the 12-year-old programme.

“Before the programme was rolled out, patients were getting care, but not in an organised way, which we now know from international standards is best practice,” Dr Weakliam said.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who attended the audit report launch, described the programme as “practical and patient-focused”.

Dr Velma Harkins, the GP lead in the care programme said there were many advantages for the patient, including convenience and accessibility in the community. It also had the advantage of care being delivered by the family doctor and practice nurse who had insight into all aspects of the patient’s condition and lifestyle.

Dr Weakliam said they hoped to extend the programme to all GP surgeries in the Midlands – it currently extends to half – but that this would have to be done through re-organisation of existing resources.

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