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Launch of information prescriptions

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From today, people with diabetes who do not have their condition under control will be given personal action plans from their GP to improve their health.Under the new scheme, launched by Diabetes UK, the NHS and private providers, if someone is not meeting their targets for blood pressure, cholesterol or blood glucose then an alert will flash up on their GP’s computer advising them that their patient could benefit from an ‘information prescription’.The simple and practical one page document, which will be tailored to each patient, will contain the crucial information they need on how to better manage their health and an action plan for improving their health that they agree with their GP. The document can be printed off and taken away by the patient.The aim of the new approach is to make sure people with diabetes get the information they need, when they need it, with the suggested actions including things like joining a walking group or testing blood glucose levels more often. If they are then able to get their condition under control, they will be reducing their risk of long-term diabetes complicationssuch as amputation, blindness and kidney failure.At the moment, the majority of people with diabetes do not have their condition under control, with only 36 per cent meeting all three targets; which is, in turn, significantly contributing to the high complication rate. But it is hoped that the information prescription will make a real difference.Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The reason information prescriptions are so exciting is that they will give people a chance to develop a personal plan with their doctor or nurse which is tailored to their needs.”“These plans can play an important role in empowering people to take control of their condition, which is really vital because people with diabetes only see a healthcare professional for a few hours a year, while the rest of the time it is them who is responsible for managing it.“We have had an incredibly positive response from our pilot projects, both from healthcare professionals and people with diabetes, and so it is great that people across the UK will now get to benefit from it. Our ultimate goal is for people with diabetes to live as long and as healthy lives as possible, and information prescriptions will be an incredibly powerful tool to help them achieve this.”

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Obesity and Diabetes, said: “The personal cost to individuals and the financial cost to the NHS of diabetes complications are immense. Information prescriptions are a really positive development that will enable primary care to help people with diabetes better understand and take ownership of their diabetes, and so empower people to avoid developing complications in the long term. We know that primary care is under a lot of time pressure, but the design of these allows best practice around care planning and goal setting to be done during routine care.”

Diabetes UK has worked with primary care IT systems, including EMIS Web, Vision and SystmOne to make it as easy as possible for healthcare professionals to incorporate information prescriptions into their consultations with patients. The cut off points for prompts in the IT system are based on National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance which sets out what targets patients should be achieving to reduce their risk of complications.

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