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More independence for people with diabetes thanks to unique diabetes course for hospital staff

The health service has devoted much time and effort to enable people with diabetes to self manage their condition. However, they often have to attend hospital for other reasons and this can dramatically affect their diabetes. They can find that their diabetes care is disrupted in hospital because it is not treated with high enough priority. Hospital staff often say that they find diabetes difficult to manage and don't know enough about it. Now a unique new course is playing a key role in addressing the need both for education of hospital staff, and to improve the experience and care of people with diabetes in hospital settings.

Warwick Diabetes Care, part of the University of Warwick's Warwick Medical School has just launched this pioneering, accredited, 'Management of Diabetes in Hospital Clinical Areas' course (MDHCA) which is designed to be taught locally at each hospital. This course is the first of its kind in the UK and timely, having been designed to meet the long identified gap in learning opportunities for staff, and the competences associated with the Skills for Health framework. The course will help Acute Trusts implement national health policy relating to: meeting the requirements of Standard 8 of the NSF for Diabetes, enhancing the experience of people with diabetes being treated in hospital, and reducing emergency admissions for people with diabetes.

The MDHCA (30 CAT points), is an undergraduate level two award that has been developed in collaboration with people with diabetes, diabetes specialists, educationalists, administrators and researchers. The course spans 9 months and includes a range of directly taught days, self directed study and the completion of several interlinked practice-based assignments. The course provides a deeper understanding of the professionals' role in diabetes care and the role of people with diabetes in managing their own care. The course's 3 core themes are: Education for people with diabetes and staff engaged in diabetes care; Clinical diabetes care; and Organisational systems and targets.

The MDHCA is organised and taught in Trusts to groups of 20 participants per course, by local health care professionals who have been specially trained to become Warwick Diabetes Care Hospital Course Leaders. As well as being available for delivery to any NHS hospital, the course is being extensively evaluated at one of the largest NHS Trusts in England ( Pennine Acute Trust,) and is already making a difference to participants' clinical practice and the work of the diabetes specialist team.

MDHCA Course Director and former hospital diabetes specialist nurse, Rosie Walker, said today ''People with diabetes are admitted to hospital twice as often and stay twice as long as those without diabetes, regardless of whether their diabetes is the cause of admission. They also attend hospital for many reasons other than their diabetes. Having diabetes can affect the progress of an illness, investigation or treatment programme and this in turn can affect diabetes, so good diabetes management, regardless of the reason for admission or attendance at hospital, contributes to effective treatment, less delayed discharge and prompt recovery. To make sure this happens, it's essential that hospital staff have the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage diabetes effectively in any clinical setting, which is what this course aims to provide. I am proud to have been involved in creating and delivering this much needed opportunity for staff to learn about diabetes in a way and setting that is relevant to their everyday work with people with the condition'.

Gill McAllister and Jane Byrom, diabetes specialist nurses, who are running the courses under evaluation said 'We have 53 participants undertaking the course in three groups. We started the first course in early July and already we are receiving much more relevant and timely referrals about people with diabetes from our colleagues in wards and departments in the hospital. Our participants are delighted by the format and content of the course, which is really meeting their learning needs. We are finding it easy to deliver, because of all the support we have had from Warwick Diabetes Care. Our colleagues in the diabetes team are noticing a much greater enthusiasm for diabetes and questioning attitude among staff in clinical areas, and not just those on the course. It's made a huge difference to the hospital already and we have a waiting list of people who want to do the course".

Diabetes professionals who want to know more can view details about the course at
or can contact Warwick Diabetes Care ( or Julie Cashmore on 02476 574262.