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Improving hospital care for people with diabetes

New scheme helps to reduce complications

A new trial programme to improve hospital care of people with diabetes has led to a 20 per cent reduction in potentially dangerous incidents of low blood sugar.

The pilot scheme, ‘Think, Check, Act’, has been running across 12 wards in four Health Boards, and has had a positive impact and will now be rolled out across Scotland.

As part of Diabetes Week, Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, will visit one of the wards at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh today to meet staff and see how the scheme works.

The programme, which has been run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Quality Improvement Hub, and funded by Scottish Government, has seen dramatic changes in the care of patients who have diabetes. The test wards saw a 20 per cent reduction in the incidence of hypoglycaemia – a potentially dangerous drop in blood sugar. In one particular ward, appropriate management of hypoglycaemia increased from 39 per cent to 92 per cent.

More than 25 per cent of patients with diabetes experience a hypoglycaemic episode during their hospital stay. As well as being very unpleasant for patients, these episodes are associated with an increase in hospital length of stay and in some cases can lead to a deterioration in health after discharge.

The programme included an education package for ward staff, use of visual reminders in the ward environment, the introduction of ‘hypo boxes’ - ready-made kits for the treatment and prevention of hypoglycaemia, training in improvement methods and support from improvement experts.

Between 15 to 20 per cent of all hospital inpatients have diabetes. The aims of the programme are to reduce complications associated with hospital stays, improve the care that patients receive, regardless of which ward provides their care, as well as reducing the cost to the NHS.

Maureen Watt said:

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to see for myself the important work that has been taking place to improve the care that people with diabetes receive in hospitals. Diabetes is a priority for our government and it is important that we get the care for patients right, both in the primary and secondary care settings. The results of this programme are hugely encouraging and I look forward to seeing other NHS boards take up the initiative and see similar results for patients.”


Think, Check, Act has been operating the following NHS boards: Lothian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Dumfries and Galloway and Tayside.

In 2014 the number of people with a diagnosis of diabetes in Scotland reached 276,430. Between 15-20% of all inpatients have diabetes (11% have type 1 and 89% have type 2).

The Healthcare Improvement Scotland Quality Improvement Hub is a national collaboration among Health Boards and Scottish Government Health Directorates which aims to support NHS Boards with implementation of the Healthcare Quality Strategy through effective partnership working between the collaborating organisations.

The collaborating organisations are: Healthcare Improvement Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, Quality and Efficiency Support Team and the Joint Improvement Team at The Scottish Government.


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