Care in the community – how pharmacy can help engage people in diabetes services

Anna Ruthven, Head of Services at McKesson UK, discusses the impact of the pandemic on Type 2 diabetes diagnoses and the role community pharmacy can play in the prevention and management of the condition.

After more than a year of diverting resources to contend with the coronavirus pandemic, there is now a backlog of patients who have had their medical care side-lined by the crisis or been left undiagnosed. So, it probably comes as no surprise that a recent study into the impact of COVID-19 on the NHS suggests that the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes was missed or delayed for around 60,000 people. On top of this, research carried out by LloydsPharmacy has found 2 in 5 (41%) adults have put nearly a stone on since the start of the pandemic – with weight being one of the key risk factors in developing Type 2 diabetes.

The last 15 months have had a significant impact on how people have accessed the healthcare they’ve needed and as lockdown eases, it’s important we’re able to engage communities in services that support their health and wellbeing. That’s why it’s encouraging to see that Type 2 diabetes checks in our pharmacies have increased by 250% during April and May, compared to the same period last year. It’s these types of interventions that can make a real difference.

LloydsPharmacy’s Type 2 Diabetes testing services in store have found that almost 1 in 14 people who have had a test since January, have been found to be at high risk of developing the condition. With the National Health Service spending around one tenth of its total budget on diabetes and related complications, timely identification of individuals at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – or in the early stages of the condition – is vital to reduce complications which have an impact on both the individual and the state.

That’s why it feels important to raise the subject in Diabetes Week and to highlight how pharmacy can add value when it comes to improving health outcomes for patients living with Type 2 diabetes and those trying to avoid a diagnosis.

Pharmacists are the most appropriately qualified to support patients on how to use their medicines to manage their condition, but like the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, pharmacy teams can also help to empower people to take ownership of their health and wellbeing by offering lifestyle and dietary advice to support them to lose excess weight, eat better and exercise more.

Studies have shown that the involvement of pharmacists in diabetes management improves adherence to treatment regimes and the recent Pharmacy Advice Audit reports that more people are relying on community pharmacies when it comes to their health. Therefore, it makes absolute sense to better utilise community pharmacy as part of the diabetes support network, especially when it comes to identifying the people unknowingly living with the condition.

Since LloydsPharmacy launched its Type 2 diabetes screening service in 2003, our colleagues have carried out more than 1.5 million tests, helping to provide vital intervention.

This Diabetes Week, LloydsPharmacy is proud to be working with Novo Nordisk, who has provided part funding for the initiative to help more people access this service and get tested. Reducing barriers to testing can help people manage their risk, which is why from the 14th June to 20th June this service will be free of charge across our 1400 stores as we aim to test a minimum of 3,000 people nationwide.

Whether it’s raising awareness of the condition, advising those who are newly diagnosed or conducting screenings and delivering associated services, LloydsPharmacy will continue to support the NHS by playing a fundamental role in helping people to prevent and manage diabetes.