• Run by Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust (PCT).
  • Focused on people with diabetes in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets.
  • Set out to break the 'tick box' mindset of annual diabetic reviews, to improve care, and support self-management.
  • Engaged with people living with diabetes around several key areas; as a result it changed annual reviews, introduced care planning training, and produced a compendium of local services.

The east London borough of Tower Hamlets is a densely populated area with significant levels of deprivation and ill health, and is home to over 60,000 people of Bengali origin. Given the high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes (up to 30%) in people of south Asian origin, local health services experience considerable demand on primary care and excess hospital admissions.

Tower Hamlets prepared a user engagement strategy around:

  • the concept of self care
  • patients’ experiences of existing services
  • what other services patients felt would help them care for their condition.

Patients wanted their personal medical folders to be ‘non judgmental’ – results are now given a colour-coded spectrum from normal to abnormal.

To break the ‘tick box’ mindset of annual diabetic reviews, these are now split into a data collection appointment to check weight, height, blood sugar and foot health, and a 45-minute consultation. As all the relevant measurements have already been done, the consultation can focus on what patients want to achieve in the following year.

The Year of Care project provided funding for care planning training and for a compendium of local services from smoking cessation to dental care and women-only swimming classes and healthy walks.

A key learning point identified from this project was that in an area with a high proportion of patients who do not have English as a first language, appropriate access to translation and advocacy services is crucial.

More information on the project can be found in the project reports below.