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Four out of five diabetes specialist nurses say workload is affecting patient safety

Diabetes specialist nurses teams are reaching ‘breaking point’, according to charity Diabetes UK.
Diabetes_specialist_nurses

Four out of five diabetes specialist nurses say their workload is affecting patient safety and teams are reaching breaking point, according to charity Diabetes UK.

According to a survey of just over 400 diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs), 40% think that their current caseloads are unmanageable.

Almost 30% of the nurses said their teams have been cut over the past two years, despite the number of people with diabetes in the UK having increased by 72% over the past decade.

Nine out of 10 DSNs said that, in helping to care for the 4.5million people with diabetes in the UK, they work longer than their contracted hours.

Urgent action

Diabetes UK says urgent action is needed to recruit more skilled staff, with one third

Four out of five diabetes specialist nurses say their workload is affecting patient safety and teams are reaching ‘breaking point’, according to charity Diabetes UK.

Diabetes_specialist_nurses
Picture: iStock

According to a survey of just over 400 diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs), 40% think that their current caseloads are ‘unmanageable’.

Almost 30% of the nurses said their teams have been cut over the past two years, despite the number of people with diabetes in the UK having increased by 72% over the past decade.

Nine out of 10 DSNs said that, in helping to care for the 4.5million people with diabetes in the UK, they work longer than their contracted hours.

Urgent action

Diabetes UK says urgent action is needed to recruit more skilled staff, with one third of respondents reporting there are vacancies in their teams and one quarter stating that posts have been downgraded.

The charity said it is worried that almost 60% of DSNs are due to retire in the next decade.

Helen Atkins, lead DSN at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, called for action at a national and local level to tackle workforce shortages and support teams ‘pushed to their limits’. 

‘Every day I see the positive impact my team has, often against the odds, in supporting people with diabetes to manage their condition, avoid complications and stay out of hospital,’ she said. ‘Yet in many areas our health system neglects this highly skilled workforce just when we need it most.’

Ending inconsistencies

Bridget Turner, director of policy and care improvement at Diabetes UK, called for an end to inconsistencies in the DSN role across the country.

She also called for a national system to accredit the specialist skills of DSNs, a set of benchmark standards to apply across the UK and a clear career pathway from entry-level specialist to senior roles.

‘Evidence shows that DSNs reduce length of stay in hospital, improve patient satisfaction and are cost effective,’ she said.

‘But because DSNs are relatively more expensive than non-specialist staff, they are vulnerable to cost-cutting measures in times of austerity.’


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