The team with the coveted 'Diabetes Team of the Year' award.

Exeter teams celebrate success at the British Medical Journal Awards

Two Exeter teams have been recognised for excellence in healthcare and research at the coveted British Medical Journal (BMJ) Awards in London on 5th May.

The BMJ Awards are the national medical awards programme, recognising and celebrating the inspirational work done by doctors and their teams. This year’s awards attracted more than 300 entries across 15 categories, including anaesthesia, cancer care, dermatology, and palliative care.

The Monogenic Diabetes Team, a partnership between the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Exeter Medical School, won the ‘Diabetes Team of the Year’ award for their work on ‘Better Monogenic Diabetes Care’.

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 receive inappropriate treatment for the condition.

The Exeter team has identified 12 genes responsible for monogenic diabetes and has been providing laboratory genetic testing for hospitals across the country since 2000. They have also developed an innovative UK-wide education programme to teach other medical professionals to identify monogenic diabetes to ensure patients received the correct diagnosis and treatment. Led by Honorary Clinical Professor Maggie Shepherd, the national Genetic Diabetes Nurse initiative trains Diabetes Specialist Nurses across the UK to recognise and support patients with a confirmed molecular genetic diagnosis.

The BMJ Judges said that they were struck by the “rapid translation of world-leading research into clinical practice” that has transformed the lives of so many people across the country and around the world by ensuring that people with monogenic diabetes can be correctly diagnosed and managed.

Honorary Clinical Professor Maggie Shepherd, said: “We are delighted that our work in monogenic diabetes has been recognised by this award and would like to thank Health Education England for funding our national network of Genetic Diabetes Nurses who raise awareness of monogenic diabetes across the UK so patients, wherever they live, can receive the correct diagnosis through access to molecular genetic testing, ensuring optimal treatment and follow up of family members.”

Professor Sian Ellard added: “This award represents 20 years’ work by a team of scientists, clinicians and nurses from the RD&E and the University of Exeter Medical School, working together to make exciting genetic discoveries that are rapidly translated into new diagnostic genetic tests to improve care for patients with monogenic diabetes.”

Also achieving success at the awards were the RD&E’s Anaesthetics Team who were recognised in the ‘Anaesthesia Team of the Year’ category for their contribution to the South West Anaesthesia Research Matrix (SWARM). SWARM is a trainee-led audit and research collaborative between six NHS organisations in the region, including Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, the RD&E, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. The judges commented that: “Swarm provides good opportunities for career development and will increase the future supply of highly informed, engaged and motivated anaesthetic researchers working for the benefit of patients.”

Date: 9 May 2016

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