Community pharmacy is key to diabetes care

Our head of healthcare policy and strategy, Clare Kerr, says community pharmacy is playing a critical role in helping people with diabetes to manage their condition, helping them to avoid costly complications and hospital visits

We hear so much in the news about the mounting pressures facing our health service. Overstretched clinicians are having to deal with the impact of people living longer, combined with the rise of long-term conditions. It’s particularly concerning that some of these challenges are eminently preventable.

In the news recently, it was reported that the NHS spends £3 billion each year on ‘avoidable’ diabetes care. Much of this cost is down to the fact that nearly four in ten people with diabetes are unable to keep on top of their blood-glucose levels, prompting emergency visits to hospital, as well as long and costly complications when being treated for other conditions.

Tackling the root of these kinds of conditions can prevent poor health and even reduce the need for any future treatment. The more we can do to help people manage their condition, the less strain there will ultimately be on the NHS. That would allow them to invest in other, less avioidable treatment areas.

It is great to see that community pharmacy has been recognised for its ability to help tackle this issue in the latest funding contract. Our teams interact with diabetes patients every day, so they are perfectly placed to provide self-care advice, especially around foot and eye screening.

In fact, LloydsPharmacy was the first national community pharmacy to offer a foot check advice service, providing simple self-care techniques for those already diagnosed with diabetes. We also developed a toolkit for pharmacy teams to advise patients with diabetes to fast safely during Ramadan.  It contained information on the risks of fasting; staying safe whilst fasting; advice on when people with diabetes should not fast; managing hypos and generally staying healthy during Ramadan.

The Government has been clear that it wants to encourage more people to make the most of their local pharmacy, and for pharmacies to play a bigger role in helping people stay healthy. This is a perfect opportunity for us to step up to the plate.

We have around 1,500 LloydsPharmacy stores across the country and many of these already act as health and wellbeing hubs for the communities they serve, but there is potential for us to do even more. That’s why it’s so important that we give our teams the impetus, the time, and the tools to feel empowered and able to make that difference.