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Warning over low levels of diabetes training for nurses


Nearly two-thirds of NHS commissioners do not fund for specific training in diabetes for health professionals, a charity survey has indicated.

The NHS needs to improve post-registration diabetes training for nurses and other clinicians to help cope with soaring rates of diagnosis, according to Diabetes UK.

A survey by the charity of 200 clinical commissioning groups in England found 60% of respondents did not fund specific diabetes training for their healthcare professionals.

In addition, 44% of CCGs did not assign time for healthcare professionals to undertake diabetes-related training or development.

“Money should be invested more wisely, beginning with ensuring that healthcare staff who treat people with diabetes have the right training and skills”

Simon O’Neill

The charity noted that nurses would soon have to demonstrate their fitness to practise and continuing professional development every three years via the new system of revalidation being introduced by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

But it warned many non-specialists, such as practice nurses, general ward staff and care home nurses, were not currently receiving training or as skills assessment in the specific area of diabetes.         

In response to the survey findings, Diabetes UK called for a national competency framework to be implemented.

This would provide clear guidance for the NHS – from GP practices to large hospitals – to help identify staff that should receive diabetes training, and how and when it should be provided, the charity said.

Such a framework would ensure that all healthcare professionals could demonstrate an appropriate level of care for people with diabetes, it added.

Simon O’Neill, director of health intelligence and professional liaison at Diabetes UK, said: “We have significant concerns that care is being provided to people with diabetes by staff who may not have an adequate level of knowledge about this complex condition.

“Diabetes already costs the NHS an incredible amount of money – around £10bn a year – but money should be invested more wisely, beginning with ensuring that healthcare staff who treat people with diabetes have the right training and skills,” he said.

“While we appreciate that some CCGs are setting examples of good practice in diabetes training provision… we want to see a national diabetes competency framework.”

To help rectify the problem, the charity has teamed up with Bupa to develop a free e-learning programme called Diabetes in Healthcare. There is also one targeted at patients called Type 2 Diabetes and Me.


Looking to find out more about diabetes?

Nursing Times Learning has three units on diabetes, which are included in a Nursing Times subscription

Visit our Diabetes Specialist Zone for double-blind peer reviewed research and innovation


Readers' comments (3)

  • the diabetes service provides staff education as part of its commissioned services in my area. However it is not always taken up by staff.

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  • I think a national competency framework will boost knowledge and help maintain a consistency in training delivered.

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  • I think you should employ the people who do know what they are talking about. I watched a brilliant Diabetic nurse, give a brilliant talk to a load of student nurses, yet she cannot get a job as a DSN because it was obvious she knew more than the manager in charge, and who clearly was stuck in the dark ages!! It staggers me that some nurses would rather put their work friends in a job to keep the team happy, rather than employ a suitably qualified person instead!! Disgraceful!!

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