Specialist Care for Patients
In partnership with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Hospitals, West Kent Primary Care, has established a community diabetes service as part of the integrated community diabetes service for West Kent residents.
Seven clinics run per week in host practices across West Kent, on a four weekly rota. The clinics are staffed by community diabetes specialist nurses and practice nurses trained in diabetes.
Historically, any adult patients with diabetes who were unable to be managed by their GP practice, would be referred to the local hospital for care. This led to long waiting times for patients to be seen.
More specifically, patients with type 2 diabetes who required injectable treatments, were either referred to the Diabetes Department at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals or, if their practice had appropriately trained staff, the patients would be managed by their practice.
To improve equity for patients with diabetes across West Kent and to reduce waiting times for appointments at the hospital, the community diabetes clinics were established.
The first clinics went live in March 2019 at eight practices in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. Over the following months a further twenty clinics were set up, with all twenty eight clinics being fully established by October 2019.
The service offers appointments between 09:00 – 17:00 Monday to Friday. Each diabetes clinic has capacity for six to twelve patients dependent on whether one or two nurses are in clinic and the type of appointments that patients are booked in for.
All appointments, whether for new patient requiring a full assessment or follow ups, are usually 30 minutes long. For more complex patients and those requiring to be taught to administer injectable therapies, appointments are 60 minutes long.
Referrals can made by GPs, practice nurses and hospital doctors using the Electronic Referral System (ERS).
Once received via ERS, the referral is reviewed and triaged by one of the Community Diabetes Specialist Nurses and dependent on patient need and complexity of their condition, the patient is sent an appointment for level 2 diabetes care at one of the community diabetes spoke clinics or for level 3 diabetes care at one of the hub clinics, at Maidstone Hospital or Abbey Court in Tunbridge Wells.
Previously all new and follow up patients were seen face to face in a spoke clinic. Following the out break of Covid and following Government guidelines all appointments were change to telephone or video consultation dependent on patient choice and nurse recommendation. Patients requiring injectable initiations are offered a face to face clinic appointment or video consultations.
Any patients with a face to face appointment are screened for Covid symptoms the day before their appointment and the outcome recorded so we can ensure all patients and staff remain safe.
The establishment of the clinics at practices, has been made possible by the use of EMIS-Web, a patient record system.
EMIS-Web enables the diabetes specialist nurses and practice nurses working in the community diabetes clinics, to access patient records from any practice in West Kent during a clinic appointment and ensures that the nurses have the most up-to-date information available regarding the patient’s clinical history, test results and medication. EMIS-Web also enables the nurses in the community diabetes spoke clinics to update patient records with details from the diabetes consultation that the GPs and other practice staff can easily access.
Patients have been very positive about the community diabetes service and the clinics being based at practices. Patients have also been very receptive to having telephone consultations and video consultations during the Covid pandemic and not being expected to leave their house during lockdown for face to face consultations.
Telephone and video consultations have been popular with patients. Providing telephone consultations has meant that the diabetes specialist nurses have been able to work from their base more frequently as opposed to travelling to practices to run face to face clinics.
…since first being diagnosed with diabetes this is the first time that I feel the problems I am having are being addressed.
…at last – people who give me confidence in their advice.
For the latest NHS advice and guidance please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/