Leading nurse consultant urges nurses to specialise in diabetes

Benedict Jephcote
Thu, 12 Apr 2018
Leading nurse consultant urges nurses to specialise in diabetes
A top nurse consultant is urging nurses to specialise in diabetes to help people with diabetes get the appropriate care they need.

Co-founder of the leading nursing organisation TREND-UK (Training, Research and Education for Nurses in Diabetes-UK), Debbie Hicks, is now trying to make diabetes specialist nursing (DSN) more appealing in a bid to fill more positions across the country.

She said: "Things will only change when we can raise the profile of diabetes specialist nursing. We also want to develop a specific diabetes specialist nursing course and qualification that equips a nurse to become a skilled and competent diabetes specialist nurse. Until we’ve done that, we are going to have such a variation in knowledge and skills because the role of the DSN has become somewhat blurred over the years.

"There are lots of different titles – diabetes nurses, diabetes specialist nurses, practice nurses with a special interest. So how do we ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and, more importantly, people with diabetes are receiving the right care?"

Debbie has been in diabetes nursing since 1990 and over the years has seen the level of care being provided to people with the condition change considerably. Recently she has become concerned at the 2017 National Diabetes Inpatient Audit (NaDIA) results which showed there are no dedicated diabetes nurses at more than a quarter of hospital sites.

She said: "I think this is extremely worrying because we know from the report that the amount of people with diabetes who are sat on the wards is rising year on year and, if nurses don’t have the right skills, then people with diabetes are not going to get the appropriate care they need.

"With the number of people with diabetes rising and the number of diabetes specialist nurses getting lower, we could be looking at a ticking time bomb of poor health."

Debbie will discuss her concerns about the state of diabetes nursing at the UK’s largest diabetes conference in November, Diabetes Professional Care 2018 (DPC2018).

She said: "There are more people needing help in primary care, but when they’re referred on to see a diabetes specialist nurse, there may not be one. These people with diabetes are becoming more complex and we just don’t have the specialist nurses to support them.

"The other issue is that, as a population of diabetes nurses, there’s a huge number of them who are due to retire in the next few years, so what happens then? I don’t know why nurses don’t want to get into diabetes as a speciality, but we’ve got to do something before we completely run out."
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