Consultants announced for new NEEDS diabetes service

8 April 2014

Details of the new NHS consultant-led community clinics for adults with diabetes have been announced. The new service, called NEEDS (North East Essex Diabetes Service), will run weekly, consultant-led clinics in Clacton, Colchester and Harwich for adults with diabetes who are referred by their GP.

Dr Vithian, who is the Clinical Lead for Diabetes at Colchester Hospital, will be the lead community diabetologist for the NEEDS community clinics. Diabetologist Dr Gannon will also run regular consultant-led community clinics.  Dr Bodmer will continue to see some patients with complex diabetes needs for foot and antenatal care.

Dr Vithian, Community Diabetologist for NEEDS and Clinical Lead for Diabetes at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust, said: “Diabetes is a complex disease that is increasing world-wide. We need to develop innovative methods of dealing with this disease and I feel that this new model of integrated diabetes care provides a unique opportunity to provide holistic, individualised care to patients with diabetes.”

He added: “We will focus on early detection and timely management of diabetes and try to ensure that the patient sees the right person at the right time to ensure that complications of diabetes are minimised. This will be a challenging task and I look forward to working with partners in primary care, the Clinical Commissioning Group and secondary care towards achieving this goal.”

The community clinic teams, which will be led by either Dr Vithian or Dr Gannon, will include diabetes specialist nurses. Four specialist diabetes nurses who were formerly employed by ACE (Anglian Community Enterprise) have transferred to be part of the NEEDS specialist diabetes team, as well as three specialist diabetes nurses from Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust. This includes lead diabetes nurse, Sheila Smyth, who becomes lead-nurse for NEEDS.

The majority of care for the 17,000 adults in North East Essex living with diabetes, including annual health reviews and foot checks, will be provided by GPs and practice nurses who will receive incentives, support and diabetes training and will be supplemented by the diabetes specialist team. Podiatry for those patients with increased risk will be delivered by the current provider, ACE, with podiatry clinics running alongside diabetes clinics at community venues.

Nicola Carmichael, Director of Operations for ACE, said: We are looking forward to working with NEEDS to deliver a more integrated and responsive local diabetes service from April.”

Dr Tim Reed, Chair, Suffolk GP Federation, which was commissioned by North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver the new adult diabetes service, said: “There has been a lot of intensive preparation for the start of the NEEDS service in April and we are very grateful for the close cooperation of Colchester Hospital, ACE and the other partners involved.  We would like to also thank national charity Diabetes UK and the many patients across North East Essex who have attended our local events or completed questionnaires to give us their feedback about the new service. Their input has been very valuable.”

He added: “We are very excited about launching the service which is modelled on successful initiatives in other parts of the country. A key feature is the involvement of patients in support and education in a more active way. There are incentives and training available for GP practices to further develop their skills in diabetes as care moves from hospital into the community. The Community specialist nurse teams led by the consultants are available for expert advice and consultation just as they were in hospital.

“The experience from other parts of the country using the model has been an improvement in outcomes for patients with diabetes, and we are confident the same will be achieved locally.”

From 1st April the NEEDS helpline will be 0345 241 3313, website or email