Diabetes UK is calling for greater investment in specialist diabetes care to improve patient outcomes, following the publication of a new report released this week by NHS Diabetes.
People with diabetes are more likely to be admitted to and have longer stays in hospital than people of the same age without the condition and are at greater risk of complications and infections while in hospital.
Not all spending due to diabetes
The report, ‘Inpatient Care for People with Diabetes – The Economic Case for Change’, found that the NHS in England spends more than £2 billion a year on inpatient care for people with diabetes. Around £600 million is estimated to be an ‘excess expenditure on diabetes’ – that is, over and above the sum spent on a population of the same age and gender without the condition.
In spite of these high costs, the report presents evidence that diabetes inpatient care is poor in many areas and people with diabetes experience avoidable complications while in hospital. Specialist diabetes inpatient teams can improve outcomes for patients and generate savings that substantially outweigh the cost of such teams. Diabetes UK agrees with these findings and believes that in the long run, poor care can be more expensive for the NHS than good quality care.
False economy more costly to NHS and harms patient care
“We are very concerned that at a time when numbers of people with diabetes are increasing – data last week revealed 130,000 new cases in the past year – we are seeing a decrease in frontline diabetes specialists. A Diabetes UK audit earlier this year, for instance, revealed over 200 diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) positions are unfilled – twice the figure reported in 2009,” said Barbara Young, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK.
“Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSNs) working in the community are crucial in preventing people with the condition being admitted to hospital, and diabetes specialist teams in hospitals are critical in reducing the length of stay.
“There must be far greater investment in specialist teams if we are to see a reduction in waiting times, prevent unnecessary amputations, stop people losing their sight and improve health outcomes for the increasing numbers of people with diabetes in the UK. This shortfall is a clear false economy which harms patient care and creates more cost to the NHS, rather than focussing resources more effectively.”