COVID-19 ‘created new ways of working’ among diabetes inpatient teams

Important lessons to inpatient diabetes services were learnt during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a new report.

Diabetes UK’s ‘Inpatient Diabetes Care during the COVID-19 pandemic’ document showed that disruption to inpatient diabetes services created positive environments and opportunities for new ways of working.

The pandemic has impacted the way care is delivered across the UK, so Diabetes UK wanted to understand how inpatient care for people with diabetes had been affected.

The charity interviewed healthcare professionals across the UK to find out about their experiences of delivering inpatient diabetes care during the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings showed that, while the pandemic has created disruption to inpatient diabetes services, many clinicians considered this disruption to have a positive impact in how agile the new environment was.

However, some diabetes teams felt that their hospitals struggled as a result of the reorganisation of staff, which meant at times there was a lack of readily available diabetes expertise where needed.

These findings highlight the important role diabetes specialist teams play in meeting the needs of people with diabetes in hospital and in tackling the challenges the pandemic has brought with it.

As a result, the charity believes that the following recommendations are key to ensuring safe and effective inpatient diabetes care across the UK, and that they must be a priority when planning for winter:

Maintaining or reinstating multi-disciplinary diabetes inpatient teams urgently. Diabetes inpatient teams must be deployed effectively to maximise their value and provide safe, effective care for people with diabetes.

Involving diabetes specialist teams in the planning of the response to the next phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Crucially, hospitals and local health systems must involve diabetes specialist teams in recovery phase and winter planning.

Actioning the NHSE Long-Term plan commitments to ensure universal coverage of diabetes specialist nurses. Access to Diabetes Inpatient Specialist Nurse teams must be a priority, for people with diabetes to be able to have the specialist support they need while in hospital.

Maintaining technological advances or putting new systems in place where they have previously been unable to. Technology such as web-linked glucometers, ketone meters, electronic patient records, inpatient diabetes dashboards, and video call equipment were all deemed vital to providing care during the pandemic.

To read the report, click here.

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