Southampton's teaching hospitals have developed a new clinical post which could be rolled out nationally to help improve care for patients with diabetes.
Philip Newland-Jones, who has been part of the inpatient diabetes team at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust for seven years as a specialist pharmacist, has been appointed the country's first consultant pharmacist in diabetes and endocrinology – a move described as a "watershed moment" for the profession.
After joining the organisation in 2008, Mr Newland-Jones helped to establish the team which, as well as his role, included lead consultant Dr Mayank Patel, a specialist nurse and a dietitian and, together, they began daily 'bedside clinics' for patients with the condition.
In a pilot which involved 400 patients, the project led to the prevention of 45 potential diabetes-related medication errors, a reduction in readmission rates from 8.91% to 5% and a reduction in length of inpatient stay which equated to a projected yearly saving of £200,000.
Around 20% of all inpatients at UHS have diabetes but, prior to this development, they were only seen on a reactive basis once referred by their wards.
Due to its success, the team has expanded and now consists of two consultants, a consultant pharmacist, five specialist nurses and two dietitians.
Mr Newland-Jones, who is also the lead pharmacist for NHS England’s Diabetes Clinical Reference Group, a member of the Diabetes UK professional council and sits on the diabetes parliamentary think-tank, started developing the consultant role, job specification and job plan in 2015.
The new post enables him to share prescribing responsibilities with diabetes consultants, lead ward rounds and carry out patient reviews post-discharge. He also acts as a co-investigator on clinical research projects and leads two specialist clinics – a multi-morbidity clinic for complex patients and a concentrated insulin clinic which take referrals from across the south of England.
"This is not only a fantastic development for both the specialties of pharmacy and diabetes, it also comes at a critical time and is a major step in the right direction for diabetes nationally," he said.
"We are currently witnessing a decline in diabetes nurse specialists and registrars, but we have pharmacists already based in hospitals who can develop into diabetes specialists and plug the gaps we have started to see appearing across the country in recent years."
He added: "Patients want to be looked after by someone who knows about diabetes and can cater for their needs efficiently and effectively and enhancing the skills and level of pharmacists will enable us to ensure that continues to be the case."
Dr Patel said: "Having made such progress in diabetes care at UHS over recent years with the development and expansion of our inpatient team, we feel the creation of this post will move us to the next level and we are delighted to be the first to go down this route – it is a watershed moment for pharmacists and diabetes care.
"We have already had great interest in the position from consultants and diabetes teams across the country, so we are hopeful it will provide a platform for many more specialist and consultant pharmacists in diabetes in the near future."
Dr Partha Kar, associate national clinical director for diabetes for NHS England, said: "This is an extremely exciting development which will open up many opportunities for pharmacists to work more closely with diabetes specialists and pharmacy has a very important role to play in improving care for patients.
"I have known Philip for a number of years and cannot think of anyone more appropriate or deserving to pioneer this role."
Posted on Tuesday 21 March 2017