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Booklet from ARC East Midlands study highlighted by NIHR

A booklet designed to reduce diabetes-related 999 calls has been featured as an Alert by the NIHR.

The Ambulance ‘Hypos can Strike Twice’ (Ambu-HS2) study has found that this simple intervention reduced the number of repeat emergency callouts for hypoglycaemia by helping people recognise early warning signs and manage their own condition.

Given along with advice from ambulance crews, it can reduce the need for further emergency callouts for low blood sugar referred to hypoglycaemia.

Hypoglycaemia is estimated there are up to 100,000 emergency call-outs annually for hypoglycaemia in the UK, costing £13.6 million per year to the NHS, with each admission to hospital costing about £1,000. Around 1 in 10 people have another severe hypo within a fortnight of calling an ambulance.

Evidence from research

On the back of the study, ARC East Midlands has now published the ‘Hypos Can Strike Twice’ booklet. The research explored the impact of the booklet, combined with advice given by ambulance crews at the time of a callout for hypoglycaemia. 

The study of 4,825 patients experiencing hypoglycaemic events attended by the ambulance service over the course of two years indicated a significant decrease in repeat attendances for hypoglycaemia, compared to the pre-intervention trend. The Hypos Can Strike Twice booklets cost around £3.70 to issue, including staff time using it, compared to an ambulance attendance costing up to £257. 

‘Prevention instead of reaction’

Professor Niro Siriwardena, who led the study, is the Director of the Community and Health Research Unit at the School of Health & Social Care at the University of Lincoln.

He 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 wanted to see what impact the Hypos Can Strike Twice booklet has on people when it comes to dialling 999 for hypoglycaemia.

“The new process of care was found to work, was easy to use, acceptable to patients and prevented recurrent hypos. By reducing potentially unnecessary calls to the ambulance service, it may also decrease hospital attendances, thereby reducing pressures and costs for ambulance services and hospitals.”

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, who is the Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “This is an important study because it shows that by improving education, we can ease the pressure on the NHS and improve the quality of life for people experiencing severe hypos. This study is also another example of how we are working to bridge the gap between research and frontline healthcare, ensuring evidence is adopted sooner leading to improvements to services and people’s lives.”


➡️ Ambulance ‘Hypos can Strike Twice’ (Ambu-HS2) study

➡️ ‘Hypos Can Strike Twice’ booklet

➡️ NIHR Alert

Published on: 6 Jan 2022