nurse photoThe number of diabetes cases is outgrowing the number of Diabetes Specialist Nurses being recruited to treat them and the trend looks set to get worse in the near future.

A position statement was launched at Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference last week which makes a strong business case for increasing the number of Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSNs) across the country. The business case has been put together by Diabetes UK, the Royal College of Nursing and TREND UK (diabetes nursing working group).

While levels of DSNs are in general increasing, the rate of recruitment is outweighed by the increase in diabetes diagnoses each year. The position statement notes a worrying statistic that a third of hospitals now have no specific Diabetes Specialist Nurses to treat inpatients.

The lack of Diabetes Specialist Nurses is affecting care as DSNs need to devote more time to administrative duties. In a survey organised by the organisations, the results showed that 20% of DSNs reported having had their posts changed to include less patient time.

Another factor that could severely affect DSN staffing levels is the fact that the survey showed that almost 40% of DSNs reported that their roles had either been downgraded or were under threat of being downgraded or reviewed. In addition, nearly 50% of DSNs are due to retire within the next 10 years.

Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter voiced his concerns on the future of Diabetes Specialist Nursing levels: "The lack of investment in specialist diabetic nurses shows a worrying short-term approach to diabetes care provision by many trusts, illustrated by the news that a third of hospitals have no specific diabetes inpatient specialist nurse."

Members of the three organisations state that DSNs play a pivotal role in the care of people with diabetes and play an important role in supporting patients and reducing their risk of serious long term complications.