Diabetes screening overhaul could cut GP workload

Using HbA1c to screen for diabetes in pharmacies could identify undiagnosed cases without generating unnecessary GP referrals, researchers believe.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes at the University of Leicester and a GP in the city, is leading a study to assess the effectiveness of this approach.

‘We want to reduce the number of people who go to their GP for a test,’ he said.

Patients will be asked to complete a risk assessment in a community pharmacy.

‘On the basis of a high-risk score, half will be asked to see their GP,’ Professor Khunti said. ‘The other half will have a finger-prick test of HbA1c at the pharmacy.’

Those given tests in the pharmacy and found to have elevated HbA1c levels would then be referred to their GP for a second test, he said. Since two elevated HbA1c tests are required for a diagnosis of diabetes, these patients will need just one test at their GP practice.

Patients not found to have elevated HbA1c levels by the pharmacy can be reassured and offered lifestyle advice. This reduces the need for patients to be referred to their GP on the basis of the risk assessment.

Professor Khunti said that previous work on cardiovascular risk screening in pharmacies highlighted the need for such schemes to reduce, rather than increase, GP workload.

‘We found that pharmacists loved it and patients loved it, but that some GPs weren’t so sure, because we had a lot of duplication of work,’ he said. ‘We want a system where there isn’t a lot of duplication.’

As well as avoiding GP appointments, using pharmacies as screening venues offers the potential to reach a broad section of the population.

‘A lot of people go to pharmacies but don’t go to their GP,’ Professor Khunti said.

The 2,000-patient randomised controlled trial has so far recruited about a third of the necessary patients.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Close up of hand holding sample tube with 'Omicron' handwritten on side

Government urged to 'free up' GP practices and expand steps to control Omicron

GPs have called for immediate action such as suspension of QOF to allow practices...

(Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

External wall of GP surgery with wording 'medical centre'

‘Utterly toxic’: GPs speak out over abuse and physical attacks on practice teams

GPs have condemned a rise in verbal and physical attacks on practice staff - warning...

Artist's image of a spiked virus

Javid warns of 'substantial risk' from new COVID-19 variant

The highly mutated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 'may pose a significant risk to public...

Desk with lettering 'LMC conference'

LMCs reject 'outdated' GMS contract and demand move to item of service payments

LMCs have voted to scrap the 'outdated and inadequate' GMS contract and to replace...

GPs at an LMC conference waving green voting cards in the air

LMCs demand ringfence on enhanced services cash and clear GP representation in ICSs

LMCs have called for a ringfence on enhanced services funding, along with a guarantee...