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Warning over unfilled diabetes nurse positions


Cost-saving programmes that are leaving diabetes specialist nurse positions unfilled will cause more people with diabetes to suffer from loss of sight, worsening health and the need to have limbs amputated, it has been warned.

According to a study by Diabetes UK, the number of diabetes specialist nurse posts that have not been filled has doubled in a year.

Some 385 hospital trusts and primary care trusts were questioned for the poll, which also revealed that in 2010 there were 218 positions left vacant, despite the number of people with diabetes growing by 150,000 each year.

The number of diabetes specialist nurse posts being left unfilled for cost-cutting reasons increased from 34% in 2009 to 43% in 2010, the charity added.

Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young said: “At a time when numbers of people with diabetes are increasing, a decrease in the number of diabetes specialist nurses is very concerning.

“This will mean longer waiting times for specialist support, more unnecessary amputations, more people losing their sight and far poorer health outcomes. This is simply not acceptable.”

Dr Peter Carter, from the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It really is worrying that despite repeated warnings, NHS trusts are still making short-sighted decisions which risk leaving patients high and dry. Our own survey showed that more than one in 10 specialist nurses may already be at risk of redundancy - something which we know would have a serious impact on patient care.

“The smart solution for trusts would be to keep investing in specialist services which can keep patients as well as possible and above all, out of hospital.”

June James, audit author and a diabetes consultant nurse, said: “There is a mass of evidence proving the clinical effectiveness of diabetes specialist nurses and their ability to reduce medication errors, the numbers of people needing admission to hospital, and length of hospital stays.

“Reductions in diabetes specialist nurse staffing levels will continue to compromise the quality of care received by people with diabetes, complicated by associated health problems such as heart and kidney disease, or during pregnancy. Worryingly, even when diabetes specialist nurses are in post, they are being asked to cover shortfalls elsewhere.

“At a recent national meeting of around 100 hospital diabetes specialist nurses, I asked how many of those in attendance were being asked to work on general wards to help with staff shortages there, and nearly everyone put their hand up.”


Readers' comments (4)

  • This should simply red 'warning over unfilled Nurse positions!'

    For far too long now patients have suffered and died because the morons in charge flat refuse to hire enough Nurses, from Band 5 to specialist and beyond. It really is as simple as that. Perhaps the idiots should be held to account in a court of law and made to justify their actions?

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  • mike | 23-May-2011 8:38 pm

    Well said. My thoughts exactly when I read this article.

    And when this is the reaction from the RCN:
    "Dr Peter Carter, from the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It really is worrying that despite repeated warnings, NHS trusts are still making short-sighted decisions which risk leaving patients high and dry.", I DESPAIR!

    Why are we still 'warning' NHS Trusts? We should be ACTING on these unheeded warnings! Dr. Carter, they are not listening. Let's stop faffing about !!

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  • Couldn’t agree more. This simply highlights the problems affecting staff recruitment across all areas of medicine and is not exclusive to the demand for nurses specialising in diabetes. Under the Health & Social Care Bill some 50,000 NHS jobs are at risk yet demand for nurses is higher now than at any time since the inception of the health service almost 70 years ago. If Government sought savings through streamlining the senior management teams and more efficient procurement procedures then the widespread jobs cuts being implemented could be avoided altogether. Andrei Shelton,

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  • I wonder why I pay my RCN contributions - I have just been demoted in a recent reorganisation to ensure our CIP requirements are met. when I read comments from Peter Carter I understand why my union reps have advised us that 'we are in tough times' and 'its happening everywhere' - where's the fight?? When are they going to say enough is enough and get tough on our behalf instead of offering compromises to senior management at the outset!

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