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Honorary Clinical Professor Maggie Shepherd (pictured centre), with the Genetic Diabetes Nurses on a recent study day at the RD&E.

National Genetic Diabetes Nurse project wins Diabetes Quality in Care Award

A nurse training initiative developed by a team at the University of Exeter Medical School and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to improve diagnosis of monogenic diabetes has won a national award for its contribution to diabetes care.

The Genetic Diabetes Nurse (GDN) initiative won the award for ‘Best innovation in integrated commissioning, or integrated care, model’ at the Quality in Care (QiC) Diabetes programme awards in Guilford on the 15th October.

Monogenic diabetes occurs because of a mutation in a single gene and accounts for around 2% of patients with diabetes, an estimated 40,000 NHS patients. It is often misdiagnosed as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, meaning many may receive the wrong treatment for the condition.

The Exeter team, led by Honorary Clinical Professor Maggie Shepherd, developed the national Genetic Diabetes Nurse (GDN) educational initiative to train healthcare professionals to recognise monogenic diabetes and to support them in managing patients with a confirmed molecular genetic diagnosis. This initiative trains Diabetes Specialist Nurses across the UK to disseminate new genetics knowledge and improve diabetes care within their region, using a model of ‘training the trainers’. Running since 2002, the model has delivered training to nearly 8,000 healthcare professionals across the UK and has been recognised as an exemplar in the Department of Health White Paper ‘Our inheritance, our future’ for building genetics into mainstream services.

The judges commented that “this is a rare form of diabetes, which is often misdiagnosed and a difficult topic to teach. This initiative was beautifully presented and there were some great comments from the patients themselves.”

Honorary Clinical Professor Maggie Shepherd, who was also a Finalist in the ‘Diabetes Hero: Outstanding Educator’ category at the QiC awards, said: “We are delighted that our UK wide Genetic Diabetes Nurse project has been recognised through this national award. We’d like to thank Health Education England and the Scottish Executive for funding the project and also our team of GDN’s who do a fantastic job in raising awareness of monogenic diabetes and improving care for patients and their families.”

Date: 22 October 2015