Working with the Ambulance Service to reduce emergencies for people with diabetes

People with diabetes across the East of England are being offered extra support to help prevent repeated diabetes emergencies. The Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN) has teamed up with the region’s ambulance service to help people with diabetes when they experience a ‘hypo’ caused by very low blood sugar levels.

There are about 300,000 people with diabetes in the East of England, and every year the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) receives around 10,000 emergency calls from people having a diabetes emergency.

The project is funded by the Eastern Academic Health Science Network and will ensure improved care for people with diabetes who have a hypo and call out the ambulance service. A team of 12 project managers and educators across the East of England will look at reducing hospital admissions and ambulance attendances as a result of hypos. These staff are placed in Norwich, Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Stevenage. Many patients with severe hypos have had limited advice on hypoglycaemia avoidance, and the risks for hypoglycaemia, and GPs and hospital teams are not always made aware of these events. People with diabetes attended by EEAST staff after a 999 call out will now be referred to the pathway, and offered education sessions with the project’s clinical educators, where the cause and future prevention of hypoglycaemic episodes will be discussed.

Professor Mike Sampson, who is a consultant in diabetes at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital which hosts the project, and who chairs the Diabetes Clinical Study Group (CSG) leading the project, said: “The issue of severe hypo in people with diabetes is more common than we realised with up to 10,000 emergency calls per year in the East of England. This puts a lot of pressure on the region’s ambulance service, A&E departments, and admission wards, and we hope that this project will reduce some of this pressure over the next few years.”

Amanda Harries, the Diabetes CSG Programme Manager, said: “The project aims to bring together GP and hospital teams across the region to deliver this new education for patients; we are working closely with the East of England Ambulance Service to ensure that all patients who are referred are contacted and offered an education session which will provide them with the information they need to avoid future hypoglycaemic episodes. The response from the ambulance crew has been fantastic and we are seeing referral numbers increase every week. Patients referred to the pathway have been very receptive to the support and education offered.”

Helen Hall, clinical project manager for EEAST, said: “The Diabetes Hypo Project went live in the EoE on 17 December 2014. Since then, it has received over 1200 referrals from crews. This is a great result by our crews who know that when referring someone with diabetes they will get the help they need to better manage their diabetes and so reduce 999 call outs and possible visit to A&E.”

Patient Bernice Wilding from Mildenhall, who recently suffered a hypoglycaemic episode and was offered a hypo education session by Lisa Newdick, a Diabetes Specialist Nurse. Mrs Wilding said, “Lisa came to see my husband and I at our own home and discussed my hypo episode. My husband witnessed my hypo and it was very frightening for him indeed. It was lovely that Lisa was able to provide us both with information to help control my diabetes. I feel we have more knowledge and are empowered to manage my diabetes more efficiently. The time that Lisa gave to us to sit down and talk to us and listen to us has provided us with great piece of mind.

“Patients who have diabetes do not realise how lucky they are to have this service to help people, like me, manage their hypos. It is reassuring to know for those people who have had a hypo that there is now a follow- up service. This service was invaluable to us.”
For more information on the project please contact or visit

Tuesday 13th of October 2015 11:15:16 AM