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Diabetes variations 'outrageous', minister admits

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Health minister Paul Burstow has said variations in quality of care for diabetes are “outrageous” and that there was a “compelling” case for hiring more specialist nurses.

A BBC Radio 4 “File on 4” programme broadcast last week quoted figures from a Diabetes UK survey which showed the number of diabetes specialist nurses was dropping.

Simon O’Neill, the charity’s director of care information and advocacy, told the programme specialist nurses were not being replaced when they left, or were being deployed into general wards.

The cuts were “not thought out well in terms of the long term damage to patients with diabetes” and the potential financial cost of treating complications, he said.

Mr Burstow told the programme he did “not find it acceptable” that NHS trusts were cutting specialist posts. “We want to see more money spent on specialist nurses because the case for them is compelling,” he said.

But he claimed the government could not force trusts to hire more specialist nurses. This would be “micro management”, he said.

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