Nearly half of diabetes specialist nurses are due to retire in the next 10 years, a national workforce survey has found.
The figures, obtained through the first survey of its kind for diabetes specialist nurses (DSN), highlight potentially “significant gaps” in their number during the transition to an all graduate profession.
University Hospitals of Leicester consultant nurse in diabetes June James, who led the survey, told Nursing Times: “It takes time to train specialist nurses up. The move towards an all graduate profession means that new nurses will soon have a degree as a basic minimum but if posts are cut, or recruitment is frozen to save costs, when many diabetes specialist nurses retire there could be a significant shortfall before new nurses come through.”
Just over 60 per cent of the 1363 diabetes specialist nurses and nurse consultants in the UK responded to the survey. Ms James urged all senior nurses working in diabetes to be more “proactive” in providing information for the survey, which has already been given funding by NHS Diabetes to be repeated this year.
“We need to know how many specialist nurses there are, what training they have, where they are working and where the vacancies are,” she said. “As a profession we need to be more proactive in gathering workforce data so that we can see what the trends are and where the gaps are. Only then can we lobby government [to protect diabetes specialist nursing posts] on your behalf.”
The full results of the survey will be published in the Journal of Diabetes Nursing in the next couple of months.