Poor health and unnecessary hospital admissions are the price people with diabetes will pay due to budget and staff cuts in specialist diabetes services, according to a report launched today by Diabetes UK.
One in three specialist healthcare professionals reported an increase in hospital admissions and one in four said there was an increase in emergency admissions, many of which could have been avoided if patients had been able to see a member of the diabetes specialist team.
The Cuts in Diabetes Specialist Services report, launched today at the Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference, in Glasgow, asked Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSNs) how funding cuts have affected services and the consequent impact on patient care.
Over half responded that they spent less time with patients and there were increased delays to see DSNs and consultant diabetologists. In addition, 39 per cent reported increased waiting times for patients’ annual reviews. The high response rate from England is likely to indicate that service reductions are more significant in England than in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
“It is absolutely appalling that specialist diabetes services are being reduced," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK.
"The skills of these teams are vital in supporting people with diabetes and those providing local services.
"People have needlessly been admitted to hospital with complications that could have been avoided. Decision makers have to end such short-sighted cost savings and invest in specialist care to deliver patient-centred care.
"With over two million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and prevalence increasing at a worrying rate, action has to be taken now. The potential long-term impact of cuts, in terms of human cost and burden on NHS resources, is frightening.”
Results also reveal how professional development and education for specialist healthcare professionals have been affected, with 45 per cent reporting reduced investment. In addition, 40 per cent said their requests for study leave had been denied and that time for this had been reduced.
June James, DSN and Vice Chair of Diabetes UK Professional Advisory Council, said: “Specialists have an essential role to play both in caring for people with complex health needs and providing training, expertise and support for the whole local diabetes community. High quality integrated care relies on the skills and expertise of specialist teams to support everyone working in diabetes.
"People with diabetes deserve the best quality care healthcare professionals can provide. How can this possibly be achieved when investment in staffing levels and our ongoing education and training are cut?”