Campaign cuts 999 call outs for diabetes-related emergencies

An education campaign has helped to “significantly” reduce the number of recurrent emergency callouts across the East Midlands to people with diabetes experiencing hypoglycaemia. The research behind the initiative was shared to mark Hypo Awareness Week that ran from 13–19 September, aiming to raise awareness of hypos to healthcare professionals in the UK and Ireland with hospitals across the countries taking part.

The campaign was developed after research showed that around one in 10 people who have a severe hypo would have another one within a fortnight. This saw the rollout of a booklet – Hypos Can Strike Twice – issued by paramedics following a hypoglycaemic event to prevent future ambulance attendances. Along with the booklet, ambulance staff also provided patients with information on accessing follow-up care by GPs or specialised diabetes teams.

Research carried out by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands, in collaboration with the East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, shows the Hypos Can Strike Twice intervention had a positive impact. The study of 4,825 patients experiencing hypoglycaemic events attended by the ambulance service over two years indicated a significant decrease in repeat attendances for hypoglycaemia compared to the pre-intervention trend. Hypos Can Strike Twice costs around £3.70 to issue, including staff time using it, compared to an ambulance attendance costing up to £257.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “This is an important study because it shows that by improving education, we can ease the pressure on the NHS and improve the quality of life for people experiencing severe hypos. This study is also another example of how we are working to bridge the gap between research and frontline healthcare, ensuring evidence is adopted sooner leading to improvements to services and people’s lives.”

It is estimated there are up to 100,000 emergency callouts annually for hypoglycaemia in the UK, costing £13.6m per year to the NHS, with each hospital admission costing approximately £1,000.

This free booklet will soon be available for all ambulance services to use and provide to their staff and patients.

Read the full study here.

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