Pharmacists must be fully integrated into the care of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in England across all care settings, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.
The call for greater pharmacy input within multidisciplinary teams was made in ‘Using pharmacists to help improve care for people with type 2 diabetes’ , a policy document published by the RPS and endorsed by Diabetes UK, on 10 July 2019.
There are 3.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in England and 90% of them have T2DM. Diabetes is responsible for more than 22,000 premature deaths in England per year. The RPS says most cases could be prevented or delayed by increasing awareness of risk factors and by providing early diagnosis for people at high risk, such as people with diabetes in the family, people with high blood pressure and people who are overweight.
The policy document says that pharmacists across primary care already provide health and wellbeing support, education and point-of-contact testing in places such as schools, supermarkets and places of worship. In the report, the RPS said that this existing infrastructure would lend itself well to efforts to raise awareness of T2DM, and added that the diversity of the pharmacy workforce could help address the “languages and cultural barriers associated with the prevention and management of T2DM”.
The policy document also calls on the NHS to increase the number of advanced practice and consultant diabetes pharmacists across the healthcare system, of which there are currently only two. It says that consultant pharmacists in their specialist fields are vital both for patient support and for the development of local and national strategy.
The report also highlights the need for training to improve pharmacists’ digital literacy capabilities, so that they can support patients to use digital diabetes management tools, such as non-invasive diagnostics and apps, and better understand and interpret clinical data.
Mahendra Patel, a member of the RPS English Pharmacy Board (EPB) who led on work to deliver the policy, said: “As part of our research, we held a workshop with representatives from across the healthcare disciplines — doctors, nurses, nutritionists, dieticians physiotherapists and academics — and there was such an energy and momentum in the room. Pharmacists don’t often shout about what we do, so it was nice to see other medical professionals shouting about what we can do”.
He added that the policy has “come at the right time to align with the new NHS structures”, including primary care networks and integrated care systems.
Claire Anderson, chair of the RPS EPB, said: “Linking pharmacists into the formal structure of care pathways and services has potential to dramatically improve the health of patients. It would create capacity and access in the system, and enable pharmacists to adopt a person-centred approach to diabetes care which helps patients get the most benefit from their medicines.”