GP service for diabetes patients to ‘free up’ hospital resources

Varadkar says initiative, which 31,000 have signed up for, is ‘better for patients’

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch have announced a new diabetes cycle of care service, under which patients with medical cards or GP visit cards will have their condition reviewed twice a year by their GP.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch have announced a new diabetes cycle of care service, under which patients with medical cards or GP visit cards will have their condition reviewed twice a year by their GP. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/ The Irish Times.

 

More than 30,000 people with type 2 diabetes will have their condition managed by their local GP rather than in a hospital under a new service starting on Thursday.

Under the new diabetes cycle of care service, patients with medical cards or GP visit cards will have their condition reviewed twice a year by their GP.

About one in 20 Irish people has diabetes, with type 2 accounting for 85 per cent of cases. An estimated 35,000 cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed.

Patients are required to register with a GP to avail of the service and so far, 31,000 have done so. Overall, it is estimated about 70,000 patients will be eligible.

Annoucing the service, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said it was a major step forward in expanding the scope of general practice into the management of chronic disease.

“It allows patients with type 2 diabetes to be managed in the community, by their own GP and practice nurse they know, rather than in a hospital clinic where they might have to queue for hours to see a different doctor each time,” he said. “This is better for patients and it also frees up hospital resources for more complex cases.”

Mr Varadkar expressed a hope that the diabetes cycle of care can be used for the management of other chronic diseases, such as COPD asthma and heart failure.

Minister of State for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch said the two annual visits to a GP provided under the scheme would contribute to better health and as a result reduce the need for hospital visits and admissions.

Welcoming the initiative, Diabetes Ireland said it should serve as a structured service extending to all people with the disease as soon as possible.