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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Are UK hospitals taking diabetes seriously?

By Hurley Swanage

With diabetes on the increase and NHS reforms being debated, there are many people who are concerned about how the country will cope with this public health issue. In a project known as Diabetes Watch, charity Diabetes UK has recently undertaken its own research looking at the preparedness of the country's hospitals to treat people with diabetes. The charity has revealed that there are three UK hospitals without any specialist diabetes nurses for inpatient care.

Barbara Young, chief executive at Diabetes UK, has expressed concern that there is evidence of a decrease in the number of nurses specialising in diabetes treatment on the frontline. This is a particular concern when the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes is rising, and when diabetes can have the same effect on the risk of someone dying as living in poverty (as reported in a recent study undertaken at Edinburgh University).

It's important that these patients get the right medication, that hospital admissions are kept to a minimum, and that those patients who are admitted to hospital are able to leave as quickly as possible. The fact that diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs) play a crucial role in ensuring those standards are met is supported by a wealth of evidence.

According to Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, NHS Trusts are ignoring warnings and not thinking about the long-term implications of their decisions for patients. The Government's Spending Review means that the situation could get worse, with 10% of specialist nurses facing possible redundancy.

Specialist services are vital for quality patient care, and ultimately help to keep people out of hospital, keeping costs down in the long term. Diabetes UK has written to Andrew Lansley (secretary of state for health) urging him to ensure that his department challenges NHS Trusts that are cutting frontline staff to the detriment of diabetics.

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