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ARC EM research to look at driving down diabetes-related ambulance call outs across East Midlands

“Prevention, instead of reaction” is key when it comes to helping people with diabetes avoid calling 999 for a common complication, a top Lincoln professor says.

Professor Niro Siriwardena is looking at ways to reduce the number of hypoglycaemia-related ambulance call outs, which he says will not only improve health outcomes, but could also save the NHS £1 million in the future. 

As part of Hypo Awareness Week, which starts on Monday, October 5, paramedics across the East Midlands have been advising people with diabetes on how to avoid low blood sugar levels, otherwise known as hypoglycaemia. 

The study, funded by ARC East Midlands, is exploring whether educating people about how to manage the diabetes-related condition, which results in about 240 calls per month over the East Midlands region, will reduce the number of repeat call outs related to hypoglycaemia which are responsible for more than a fifth of these calls or over 50 per month.

Professor Siriwardena wants to investigate an ambulance service innovation which involves supporting staff and patients aided by a booklet ‘Hypos Can Strike Twice’ to reduce the number of hypo call outs in the East Midlands Ambulance Service area. The guidance booklet provides information about what causes low blood sugar, what the warning signs are and how to avoid a hypo in future. 

The Director of the Community and Health Research Unit at the School of Health & Social Care, University of Lincoln, said: “Although hypoglycaemia can be serious if left untreated, it is possible to treat the condition and prevent a future episode, if action is taken early”. 

“Prevention, instead of reaction is always favourable, so we want to see what impact the Hypos Can Strike Twice booklet has on people when it comes to dialling 999 for hypoglycaemia.

“If the new process of care is found to work, this will help prevent the recurrence of hypos and improve patients’ future health. It could also reduce potentially unnecessary calls to the ambulance service, while also hopefully eliminating hospital attendances, thereby reducing pressures and costs for ambulance services and hospitals nationally by over £1 million.”

Should the results of the study show the guide has had a significant impact on reducing hypo-related ambulance calls, then the initiative may be rolled out on a national basis. 

Published on: 6 Oct 2020