A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) into standards of care for people with diabetes has revealed variations in training among NHS staff.
It also showed there are differences in the provision of diabetes specialist nurses from place to place and differences in patient education, despite research showing the importance of both in managing the disease.
Another recent study found a correlation between diabetes specialist care teams and increased control of blood glucose levels, shorter hospital stays and generally improved care as well as the fact that they could lead to cost savings in the long-term.
The NAO report concludes that expected levels of care are not being met and highlights poor performance, despite recognising improvements made since 2006-07.
It insists that diabetes services in England are not delivering value for money and that there are still high numbers of avoidable deaths.
It is thought that the number of people with diabetes will rise by 23% to 3.8 million by 2020 from an estimated 3.1 million adults in 2009-10.
The NAO thinks that could be an underestimate based on incomplete data though and it says that spending on diabetes services in 2009-10 was at least £3.9bn, or approximately 4% of the overall NHS budget.
Peter Carter, Royal College of Nurisng chief executive and general secretary, said: “This report highlights a disappointing variation in the quality of care for people with diabetes.
“To improve this poor state of affairs, senior nurse leaders should be at the heart of the new clinical commissioning groups to ensure all people with diabetes get access to specialist nursing care.”
He added: “The evidence shows that specialist nurses are often a unique lifeline for patients and families, helping with everything from accessing the most appropriate drugs to giving advice on maintaining good health and wellbeing.
“We have shown previously that specialist nurse posts save millions of pounds through reduced complications, fewer hospital re-admissions and better long term management of conditions like diabetes.”