An innovative clinical change management programme run by NHS Greenwich and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Ltd is "delivering excellent improvements and contributing efficiency savings" to the local Primary Care Trust (PCT), says the partners.

The Evidence into Practice (EiP) programme in Greenwich has targeted diabetes, which is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the borough and is a growing problem due to increasing levels of obesity. Following a diabetes needs assessment undertaken in 2009, which found that the levels of identification and effective management of diabetes and its associated conditions were particularly poor, with notable variations in outcomes across GP practices, NHS Greenwich and MSD selected 14 GP practices in deprived areas with the highest rates of diabetes and heart disease to participate in the programme as a pilot on a "service to medicine" basis. The pilot was sponsored by MSD.

New data show that implementing the programme across these 14 pilot site programmes has improved risk factor target achievement in people with diabetes, and that outpatient attendance for people with the condition, plus hospital admissions for all circulatory conditions, have been reduced in the pilot practices.

This reduction contributed to over £200,000 in savings in the first year of the programme, and NHS Greenwich estimates that up to £700,000 in further potential savings may be made this coming year, when the programme is rolled out on a "fee for service" basis to all 46 practices in Greenwich.

Jackie Davidson, associate director of public health for NHS Greenwich, welcomed the positive impact which the EiP programme is having; "our population os really benefiting from initiatives such as this," she said.

Greenwich GP Dr Junaid Bajwa added that the programme had helped his practice realise what it can do to better serve its patients. 

"It has helped us realise how all members of the team, clinical and non-clinical, can improve the service we offer people with diabetes," said Dr Bajwa. "The programme has been instrumental in enabling us to identify gaps in our knowledge when it comes to the management of people with diabetes, and encouraging our continual professional development by helping us to work more efficiently while improving patient outcomes,' he added.

EiP is a fully-facilitated change management programme, provided by MSD on a commercial basis, which aims to ensure that people with diabetes and those at increased cardio-metabolic risk receive quality care through effective implementation of national and/or local policy and guidelines.

Currently, more than 250 practices are registered with the EiP programme, covering over 1.5 million patients nationally and, following a series of successful national pilot programmes, MSD is making it available on a "fee for service" basis. The firm notes that this is an unbiased programme that is independent of any pharmaceutical product promotion and that it plans to improve and expand the programme following its recent acquisition of Continuum Professional Services, the GP-led company that developed Evidence into Practice with Schering-Plough prior to its merger with Merck.