The value of specialist nurses in the care of people with diabetes has been highlighted in new research presented last week at the annual Diabetes UK Professional Conference.
Sonya Smith, a Wolverhampton Community Diabetes Specialist Nurse, conducted a research project to evaluate the importance of the role these health professionals have in caring for and supporting diabetes patients.
“It is very important to me and my colleagues to ensure that the value of expertise and knowledge of the role is recognised and is supported within the NHS,” she said.
After reviewing clinical and policy literature on the topic, questioning local patients with diabetes and carrying out a cost analysis, Sonya found that involving patients in their care is vital for improving their understanding of diabetes and self-management of their condition.
Nearly all of the respondents (995) said they felt listened to by their specialist nurse and 96% felt more confident in managing their blood sugar levels independently as a result of their specialist support.
The study also concluded that maintaining Diabetes Specialist Nurse posts, can help the NHS save money, and that multidisciplinary work by healthcare professionals is vital for supporting people with diabetes.
Commenting on the findings, Pete Shorrick, Diabetes UK’s Regional Manager in the Midlands, said: “Sonya’s work adds extra weight to our knowledge that Diabetes Specialist Nurses are crucial in supporting independence and in helping people self manage their diabetes more effectively.
“Unfortunately, we know that the number of these skilled nurses is reducing, at a time when numbers of people with diabetes are increasing. We worry that it will lead to longer waiting times for specialist support, more unnecessary amputations, more people losing their sight and far poorer health outcomes.”
He added: “We want to see employers of Diabetes Specialist Nurses end their recruitment freezes; commissioners and health boards to recognise the importance of these nurses when designing a cost effective diabetes service; and Diabetes Specialist Nurses to establish a portfolio or academic evidence to demonstrate that they can work to expert nurses level.
“We’d like to thank Sonya for her hard work in making the case for these positions and will continue to support the cause for people with diabetes to have access to specialist nurses.”

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