Mandatory training needed for healthcare professionals on 'artificial pancreas' devices

Mandatory training needed for healthcare professionals on ‘artificial pancreas’ devices

Healthcare professionals who are responsible for the roll out of a new generation of diabetes management technology should benefit from mandatory, funded training, a group of diabetes experts have said. 

The group, which includes the Diabetes Technology Network-UK (DTN-UK) chair Dr Alistair Lumb and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) head of policy Rachael Chrisp, underlines the importance of supporting care professionals to be able to communicate to people that hybrid closed loop systems may be an option for them.

Rachael said: “We are lobbying for funding to be made available for mandatory training for all those who are going to be tasked with prescribing hybrid closed loop systems, to facilitate ongoing education around how the technology is used.”

Dr Lumb, a consultant in diabetes and acute general medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said that the Diabetes Technology Network-UK offers freely available best practice guides and educational resources for support care professionals involved in the delivery of technologies during diabetes treatment.

The calls for a greater focus on training for healthcare professionals were made during a webinar, chaired by NHS England diabetes specialty advisory Professor Partha Kar and supported by Medtronic. It discussed the practical steps that must be taken to ensure HCL systems are easily accessible to those who need them most.

The webinar panellists made a series of recommendations which are highlighted in a newly published white paper: The future of diabetes care – overcoming the challenges to unlocking hybrid closed loop technology.

HCL systems use a body-worn sensor to continuously monitor glucose levels, feeding this information to an insulin pump, which uses a sophisticated algorithm to calculate how much insulin your body requires, before automatically delivering the appropriate dosage of insulin to the wearer when needed.

This automates a process that can be burdensome and, in some cases, life-limiting. Because a HCL system steps in to help regulate blood glucose levels, it is sometimes referred to as an ‘artificial pancreas’.

In November 2023, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) gave its formal approval for HCL technology to be provided as part of NHS-funded diabetes care across England and Wales.

NICE then issued its final guidance on use of the technology, which includes recommendations for clinical practice, on 19 December 2023.

While NICE usually expects relevant health bodies to make an approved health technology available within three months of a positive appraisal, NHS England successfully requested a five-year implementation period to give the health service time to train and build the specialist skills within the clinical workforce and to procure HCL technologies.

Both the JDRF and DTN-UK form part of the Expert Advisory Group overseeing the NHS England implementation strategy.

Author: Philip Lopez