Pharmacists must be integrated into diabetes care

New policy outlines contribution of pharmacists

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England is calling for pharmacists to be fully integrated into services for people with type 2 diabetes to increase prevention and detection of the condition and improve the care that patients receive. 

Three in five cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by helping people understand their risk of developing the disease and how to reduce it, and by getting an early diagnosis for those known to be at high risk.

Using pharmacists to help improve care for people with Type 2 diabetes published today recommends:

  • Pharmacists work as part of the multidisciplinary team to play a greater role in prevention and detection services for type 2 diabetes
  • Pharmacists should play an active role in optimising medicines, improving the health, wellbeing and safety of people with type 2 diabetes across the NHS
  • Pharmacists in specialist and generalist roles should have access to education and training to support people with multiple conditions
  • The role of consultant pharmacists in diabetes should be embedded to ensure improved system wide management of people with type 2 diabetes.

Claire Anderson, Chair of RPS in England, said:

“The NHS Long Term Plan recognises patients will benefit from a more integrated healthcare system and that pharmacists have a key role to play in this.

“Preventing people from developing type 2 diabetes is life-changing for patients. It’s also one of the most important challenges faced by the NHS, which currently spends around £10 billion treating the condition.

“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.

“Local pharmacy leaders must be part of the strategic planning networks as Primary Care Networks and Integrated Care Systems develop. It’s vital that systems consider how they will use the pharmacist workforce to drive the prevention, early detection and support of people with type 2 diabetes.

“Our new resource on system leadership provides a blueprint for local pharmacy leaders to engage with their health and care systems.”

Professor Sir David Haslam, Chair of NICE, said:

“There can be little doubt that the ever-increasing prevalence of diabetes, often linked to obesity, is a public health emergency. At a time like this it is vital that the NHS maximises the skills of the entire work force. Pharmacists have a key role to play both in the early identification of diabetes, as well as supporting self-care, management, monitoring and myriad other aspects of this important and challenging condition.”

Simon O’Neill, Clinical Director at Diabetes UK said:

“There are currently 3.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes; with another million people living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and a further 5 million at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the burden not only for the individuals affected, but also for the NHS as whole, is huge.

“Pharmacists work with patients in their communities every day. Involving pharmacists more in diabetes prevention and management and integrating them into the multidisciplinary team is vitally important to ensure people get the care they need when they need it.”

Gul Root, National Lead Pharmacy Public Health, Public Health England said:

“Pharmacists and their teams in all sectors can make an important contribution in preventing the onset of diabetes and supporting better health for people who already have diabetes by providing healthy lifestyle advice, for example on stopping smoking, improving diet and nutrition, reducing alcohol consumption and increasing physical activity. Health champions in Healthy Living Pharmacies could play a critical role in this important health improvement ambition.”


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