No threat to diabetes centre

HEALTH bosses have moved to reassure patients there is no threat to the future of the Diabetes Centre at Ipswich Hospital.

Kate McGrath

HEALTH bosses have moved to reassure patients there is no threat to the future of the Diabetes Centre at Ipswich Hospital.

Fears have been raised this week that the award-winning centre was at risk because of a proportion of patients from the centre being transferred to GP care.

However Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning and Dr Andrew Hassan, medical director, both from NHS Suffolk, maintain the future of the centre is secure because of the growing number of diabetic patients.

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Dr Hassan said: “Inevitably we are going to see a higher proportion of diabetes cases in primary care.

“This increase does not pose any threat to diabetes services in hospitals. Even with rising numbers of the condition, the numbers of patients being managed within the specialist diabetes clinics will remain similar, even if the greater proportion is managed by GPs.”

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He added that widening care into the community will allow the clinic more time to deal with serious Type 1 diabetic cases.

Dr Gerry Rayman, a consultant on diabetes at the centre, said it was important that some patients were treated by their GP, but warned that training is essential to achieve the best care.

“It would be impossible and not sensible for all people with diabetes to be seen at the Diabetes Centre.

“It is therefore essential that primary care is supported to develop their diabetes services especially as the numbers of people with diabetes increase. It is also essential that the specialist services provided by the Diabetes Centre are available for those patients whose diabetes is more complicated.

“We strongly believe that integration of these services supported by strong governance and training is essential to achieve this.”

He added: “The development of a fully integrated service should not be a threat. It should lead to improved services at both the Diabetes Centre and in primary care.”

Health campaigners initially raised concerns the move to transfer a third of patients from the centre resulting in a loss of funding would inevitably lead to closure.

There was also worry that GPs workloads would increase, but one village doctor welcomed the move.

Dr Paul Thomas at the Gipping Surgery, in Barham, said: “Personally I think the GP surgery is the best place to be treated for diabetes.

“I think it validates nine years of training. All GPs are perfectly capable of looking after diabetic patients. The patients can be referred to the hospital when the diabetes is difficult to control or gets complicated.

“I enjoy looking after diabetes because it is very satisfying. You have a good relationship with the patient which is essential as a GP.”

The primary care trust will give �200 to doctors when a new patient is prescribed insulin or when the dose is altered.

“This can only be a good thing, as we're paid for doing what we already do,” Dr Thomas added.

Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning at NHS Suffolk, said more GPs are choosing to be trained in these treatments and are taking on additional diabetes care services.

She added: “We would like to take this opportunity to reassure all diabetes patients across Suffolk that there is no threat to the service at Ipswich Hospital.”

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