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Paediatric specialist nurses still overstretched

Paediatric diabetes specialist nurses (PDSNs) in Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England are still severely overstretched, with some PDSNs looking after more than 160 children.

This is the finding of a Diabetes UK report on the progress of primary care organisations in 2007.

The recommended caseload for one PDSN is no more than 70 children.

Caseloads on the increase

The report also shows that the PDSN caseload in 41 per cent of PCTs has increased since 2006, and only 7 per cent of PCTs have improved their PDSN caseload. This is despite a recent Healthcare Commission report which revealed more than 80 per cent of children with diabetes are not achieving recommended blood glucose levels.

A vital role

“The Government has to wake up and understand the vital role of specialist nurses," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.

"With some nurses coping with more than double the recommended number of children, it is no wonder four out of five children have poor blood glucose control.

"Most are struggling to even see a specialist nurse, so any additional support is out of the question.

“The government promised five years ago to improve specialist care and ensure a healthy future for all children with diabetes. It’s high time they delivered on that promise.”

Other key findings

Other key findings from the report on PCT progress include:

  • Only 49 per cent support schools in providing care for children with diabetes.
  • 51 per cent of PCTs provide psychological support for people under 16.
  • 42 per cent do not have written protocols for the transfer of children from paediatric to adult services.
  • 38 per cent do not have written protocols for the initial care and assessment of children with diabetes, up from 12 per cent in 2006.
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