Record case conferences help improve diabetes care

Professor Glen Maberly from Western Sydney Local Health District provides a case conferencing session with patient Lea Bellis and Dr Shanthini Seelan.

Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) has marked a medical milestone, completing more than 2,500 joint specialist case conferences – the first initiative of its kind in NSW – boosting the quality of community-based care for people with type 2 diabetes.

Joint specialist case conferencing is a collaborative, integrated approach focused on up-skilling general practitioners in diabetes management.

The initiative was developed by Western Sydney Local Health District’s WSD and Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WSPHN).

More than 2,500 case conferences have now been conducted across Blacktown, Mount Druitt and Westmead hospitals, with over 2,000 individual patients seen and more than 300 GPs involved.

WSD director Professor Glen Maberly said hospitals have an important role to play in sharing specialised knowledge with community-based healthcare providers, to enable them to provide the best possible care to residents.

“Diabetes is a complex condition and can be challenging to manage for both patients and healthcare providers alike,” Prof Maberly said.

“The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in western Sydney is growing rapidly, with nearly half the population either affected by or at risk of developing diabetes.

“If you live in western Sydney, you are more likely to have diabetes than if you live in the eastern suburbs of Sydney or the northern beaches.”

Routine testing for type 2 diabetes continues at Blacktown and Mount Druitt emergency departments, which has shown thirty percent of people tested were likely to have pre-diabetes, while 17 per cent were likely to have type 2 diabetes.

“General Practitioners play an important role in managing diabetes in the community,” Prof Maberly said. 

Dr Shanthini Seelan, one of three principles of Bridgeview Medical Practice in Toongabbie, joined the program in 2015, one of the first practices in western Sydney to be involved. 

“Case conferencing is a thirty minute consultation with the patient, the GP, an endocrinologist from the hospital and a diabetes education”, Dr Seelan said.

“Information about the patient is shared and the patient is part of the team, so they provide input into the discussion and it’s very patient-centred.”

Lea Bellis is a patient of Dr Seelan and has seen first-hand the benefits of these collaborative consultations.

When she was first told she had diabetes it came as a shock.

“Why was it me that had it? I didn’t really know anything about diabetes,” she said.

“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001, I had bariatric surgery, lost weight and from there it just got better and better.”

No longer reliant on insulin or other medications, Lea is more energised, so much so she is able to climb a flight of stairs and do housework late at night, something she never thought was possible.

Dr Shanthini Seelan said Lea’s story is simply amazing and highly motivational.

“It was through the case conferences, innovative ways of management, and being the trouper she is, she embraced it all and accepted responsibility for her own care and came out a winner having delegated diabetes to the back burner for now,” Dr Seelan said.

“Case conferencing is a very valued service and it is transforming primary care.”

For more information about WSD, visit the website at https://www.westernsydneydiabetes.com.au/ . To download your copy of the WSD Healthy Living Options booklet, visit the WSD website at https://www.westernsydneydiabetes.com.au/ .

WSLHD invests approximately $2 million annually on tackling obesity, and $1.5 million for the Western Sydney Diabetes initiative.

In 2018-19, the NSW Ministry of Health will allocate $38 million towards reducing the prevalence of obesity in NSW.