A YEAR since NHS Swindon was revealed as the second worst primary care trust in the country for diabetes care, steps are being taken to improve the situation.

Figures released by the NHS Information Centre last year, which related to 2009/10, painted a grim picture for diabetics in the town. Figures showe that less than 10 per cent of patients were being given the nine health checks required every 12 months by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines.

The tests include blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cholesterol and examinations of the eyes and feet.

They are designed to spot the early signs of complications linked to diabetes such as infection leading to gangrene, blindness, kidney failure and heart problems.

A national diabetes audit released this week also puts Swindon in the bottom quarter of PCTs in the country in five out of eight categories relating to diabetes care.

Back in 2011, a steering group was set up by NHS Swindon, consisting of representatives from nine GP practices, the PCT, a hospital consultant, community diabetic specialist nurse and Steve Macmahon, Diabetes UK Swindon Group committee member and service champion.

Together, the group has put together an agreement for GP surgeries to help improve the care they give to diabetic patients.

Steve said: “Because Swindon is one of the worst performing areas in the country for diabetic care and worst in the south west, we have been looking how we can improve this. It has been quite difficult because we can’t get doctors to do anything differently without paying them.

“An agreement has been drawn up for surgeries to sign up to which will give them a bit of money and extra training for doctors and nurses to help try and better educate them.

“So far, only two surgeries in Swindon haven’t signed up for the extra training, hopefully they will, but if they don’t we need to know why. We hope that the situation in Swindon will begin to improve within the year and for the health service, that’s a quick turnaround.

“It will only be achieved by the doctors and nurses changing the way they work.”

Steve said that when diabetic patients go for their annual diabetic review, they should be checked for nine different healthcare essentials.

“In Swindon, this is rarely happening and patients need to be aware of what they should be checked for during these appointments.

He said: “It’s about trying to wake some people up, and waking patients up, it’s a partnership between people that have the condition and medical services.

“We have a checklist card which is a powerful tool for people to take along to their surgeries.

“But a lot of people are still overawed by their doctors, especially some of the older people. As long as they come out of the doctor with a slip to say everything is ok, they are happy with it, despite not being checked for certain things.

“We need to look at the whole picture, we have thought that double appointments at surgeries for diabetic patients could be a way forward.”

Speaking at the Diabetes UK Swindon Group AGM this week, Steve and group secretary Matthew Spencer said a special website for diabetic patients will go live next month which will feature a wealth of information for both sufferers and medical professionals.

A spokesperson from NHS Swindon said: “Nearly every practice has signed up to this initiative, which is dedicated to enhancing diabetes care in Swindon and complementing work already in progress.”