Once again the Guidelines in Practice Awards have surpassed all expectations. The Guidelines in Practice Awards were created in 2002 to recognize innovative local initiatives to implement evidence-based clinical guidance.
Changes in clinical practice brought about by the NSFs, NICE and SIGN guidelines, and the nGMS contract were very much in evidence.
Dr Alan Begg, Chair of the judging panel, commented: 'The QOF has bedded down and the innovations of previous years have now become standard practice. Despite this, there are still some practices who continue to innovate, be creative, and go that extra mile.
'There is a clear move to empower patients and consider them more in the care they receive. This is done by either giving them more information, allowing them to monitor their disease treatment, or moving services nearer to the patients or where they are needed.'
He continued: 'We are seeing that guidelines can be successfully implemented and not just in the major disease categories, but also in more of the orphan diseases and conditions that don't normally receive the amount of attention they deserve.'
This year there were six sponsored categories for primary or shared care projects to implement national evidence-based guidance in the following areas: asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, COPD, diabetes and NICE guidance.
The winners of these categories were considered, along with direct entrants, for the Guidelines in Practice Award, sponsored by the journal. This year's overall winner was Heidi Shute's team from Medway PCT, Kent, for its community heart failure service.
The Medway project provides a comprehensive nurse-led heart failure service, which is based on the implementation of national clinical evidence-based guidelines. A user-friendly pathway has been produced, and guidelines have been developed for primary care practitioners who also have access to diagnostic testing, which enables early diagnosis.
The service has improved access and management for heart failure patients, from their initial diagnosis through to end-of-life care, with a corresponding reduction in hospital admissions.
Their entry will be published in full in next month's issue.
Each year, the Guidelines in Practice Awards reveals creative approaches to practising evidence-based medicine, and the benefits for patients are clear.
All of the judges of the Guidelines in Practice Awards 2006 felt that it was heartening to see the same results demonstrated in everyday clinical practice as seen in clinical trials, in terms of improved patient outcomes. A change in clinical practice and in the way healthcare professionals work can really make a difference.
Dr Alan Begg added: 'We need to emphasize that many of the projects submitted this year, which are at an early stage, will be excellent projects if followed through and written up in future years. Service changes can make a difference, but it is important that projects are not too ambitious and don't run away without being consolidated. Some very simple audits can produce impressive results and show improving patient outcomes.'
We look forward to receiving both new and updated entries to the Guidelines in Practice Awards next year. For details on all the winning entries in this year's Awards, see the Awards news report here.