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Diabetes care quality is 'question of location'

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The standard of diabetes healthcare in England hinges on a postcode lottery that is fuelling a “major health crisis”, according to a charity’s new report.

Diabetes UK’s State of the Nation report found the quality of care patients get in England - whether it’s provided by a GP or hospital - is “a question of location”.

The report found big regional differences in patients’ access to quality, integrated care. In some areas diabetes patients were found to be four times likelier to get the annual checks they needed to manage their condition than those living in the worst area.

It highlighted data showing that a third of hospitals did not have an inpatient diabetes specialist nurse in place and warned that workforce audits had shown that diabetes specialist nurse posts were “being frozen or not replaced as vacancies arise”.

“There should be diabetes inpatient specialist nurses and teams in every hospital, to deliver high-quality support and expertise to reduce length of stay and
ensure delivery of safe, person-centred care,” the report stated.

Experts behind the report are now calling on the government and NHS England to investigate the reasons for the postcode lottery and come up with an action plan to improve care for diabetics in the worst-performing areas.

Clinical commissioning groups in poorly performing areas, meanwhile, should take urgent action to drive up standards, they say.

The report suggests that every hospital should have specialist nurses, dieticians and teams dedicated to managing diabetes inpatients’ care while all medical staff at hospitals should be given a basic understanding of how to look after diabetics.

It said that would help provide the expertise patients need, whatever the reason for their admission. And it would also improve care and cut hospital stays, which tend to be longer for patients with diabetes who can develop complications related to the disease.

Meanwhile, the report says, cuts to specialist staff must stop while expert commissioning teams should oversee the development of specialist services.

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