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Specialist nurses could save NHS £100 million

Introducing Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSNs) in Emergency Medical Units could reduce the NHS deficit (£623 million) by almost £100 million.

This is the finding of research presented today at Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference in Glasgow.


12-month trial

Identifying people with diabetes

Researchers at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust conducted a 12-month trial where DSNs visited the Emergency Medical Unit, Monday to Friday, proactively identifying people with diabetes. DSNs identified and reviewed 111 people with diabetes, of which 47 (42 per cent) were discharged within 24 hours.

Potential £111k annual saving per hospital

The average hospital stay for a person with diabetes is normally 11 days. With an average bed stay costing £215 daily, 47 fewer admissions equates to a saving of £111,155 for the hospital each year.

£100 million could be saved

“Diabetes UK estimates that people with diabetes spend 1.1 million days in hospital a year," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK.

"Almost £100 million could be saved if these hospital days were reduced by 42 per cent.

DSNs play vital role

“DSNs are already seen as the lynchpin of the healthcare team by people with diabetes in their ongoing care. This research is yet further proof of the vital role DSNs play in improving the health of people with diabetes and the financial woes of the NHS. With spiralling rates of diabetes, the Government has to look to long-term solutions and invest in specialist staff such as DSNs.”

Impact of DSNs

Helen Atkins, DSN at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “We wanted to evaluate the impact of DSNs on preventing unnecessary hospital admissions and reducing length of hospital stays.

Proactive DSN intervention

"People with diabetes are admitted to hospital twice as often and stay twice as long as those without diabetes, occupying one in ten hospital beds. Our research shows how proactive DSN intervention can facilitate more appropriate care and help save money.

“After the positive results of the evaluation we have now introduced the same service in A&E and other Medical Admissions Units within UHL Trust. In addition, our trial only used a DSN from Monday to Friday. Extending the service to weekends could generate even more savings.”

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