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Important new partnerships

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 19, PAGE NO: 47

Mary Burden, RGN, MPH, is nurse consultant in diabetes, Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust. A former member of the renal topic area core group, she is now a member of the long-term condition care group workforce team and the implementation group for the National Service Framework for Diabetes. She is also an elected trustee and vice-chair of the charity Diabetes UK (formerly the British Diabetic Association)

Diabetes is very much in the limelight at the moment, with the publication of key reports designed to drive up standards and iron out inequalities. Globally, the prevalence of this chronic condition is increasing, turning diabetes into a significant public health issue. Nurses, whether or not they are specialists in this condition, need to understand the many initiatives and changes that are revolutionising the care of people with diabetes. With the recent publication of the National Service Framework for Diabetes, all nurses are likely to be asked to take a leading role in improving the management, treatment and lifestyle of the 1.3million people with diabetes in England alone. Not before time, many may say.

Diabetes is very much in the limelight at the moment, with the publication of key reports designed to drive up standards and iron out inequalities. Globally, the prevalence of this chronic condition is increasing, turning diabetes into a significant public health issue. Nurses, whether or not they are specialists in this condition, need to understand the many initiatives and changes that are revolutionising the care of people with diabetes. With the recent publication of the National Service Framework for Diabetes, all nurses are likely to be asked to take a leading role in improving the management, treatment and lifestyle of the 1.3million people with diabetes in England alone. Not before time, many may say.

Two landmark studies have shown that the complications and risks of having diabetes can be prevented or minimised through better glycaemic control (The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial in Type 1 diabetes, 1993, and the UK Prospective Diabetes Study in Type 2 diabetes, 1998). The recent publication of the final draft of National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines on aspects of care has been welcomed. Although there is little specific guidance on education and lifestyle interventions, these are areas in which nurses can make a major impact. The importance of establishing healthy eating and exercise patterns in childhood has also been graphically shown, with the recent cases of obese Caucasian teenagers being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Bristol, prompting much concern about the long-term adverse health effects on UK children.

What is clear is that a new partnership between people with diabetes and professionals is needed, where the former are given increased information and responsibility to manage their own condition. It is hoped that people with chronic conditions can become 'expert patients' and support others: results from pilot schemes will give an insight into how this should be done. Meanwhile, all nurses, in hospitals and the community, have a part to play in improving the care of people with diabetes.

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