RESEARCH: Clinicians in Southampton are piloting a new way of treating diabetes patients during hospital stays.

The three month project is led by Dr Mayank Patel, lead consultant in diabetes at Southampton General Hospital.

The pilot involves 400 cardiac, orthopaedic and vascular inpatients with diabetes, being seen in a daily “bedside clinic” by a team of doctors, nurses, dieticians and pharmacists.

Although around 15 per cent of all inpatients at University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust have diabetes, they would previously have only been seen on a reactive basis once referred by their ward.

The experience was described as “poor” by Dr Patel. “By switching the focus on to caring for patients’ diabetes before they encounter problems and allowing us to dedicate time to them and the staff treating them, we have seen quite a radical transformation.”

The diabetes team, made up of a consultant, two specialist nurses, a research dietitian and a pharmacist, completed full daily reviews, which included foot examinations, provided information materials to all patients and staff, offered bespoke teaching sessions to all wards and rectified any unsafe or incorrect prescribing.

A trust statement said that the pilot had prevented 45 potential medication errors, reduced readmission rates from nine per cent to five per cent and reduced the length of inpatient stay, saving £200,000.

Patient satisfaction levels have also risen, the trust said. The pilot was recently named one of the best inpatient care initiatives of the year at the Quality in Care Diabetes Awards.

The trust is now planning to extend the scheme to its stroke unit and surgical wards.