In 2016, Diabetes UK undertook a workforce survey to explore the current state of diabetes specialist nursing.
The results indicate a, despite evidence that DSNs reduce length of stay in hospital, improve patient satisfaction and are cost effective.
- DSNs told us that their workload has increased significantly, both in terms of number of patients and the complexity of the care they provide. However, rather than increases to staff numbers, almost a third of respondents said that there have been cuts to DSN posts in their team over the past two years.
- These pressures appear to be compromising quality of care and even patient safety. Nearly four in five respondents (78%) expressed concern that their workload was having an impact on patient care and/or safety.
- Services are often relying on the goodwill and commitment of DSNs to compensate for capacity problems, with almost 90% of DSNs reporting that they work above their contracted hours.
- Access to continuous professional development is being restricted for the majority of respondents: over two thirds (68%) have experienced difficulties in getting time out for training and development in the past two years.
- The survey suggests growing difficulties in recruiting suitably skilled: around a third of respondents (32%) reported that there are currently unfilled DSN posts in their team, with particular difficulties in recruiting to higher grades.
- Without urgent action to develop a sustainable DSN workforce, these problems look set to get worse: well over half of respondents (57%) will be eligible to retire from the profession within 10 years or fewer, up from 40% in 2010.
- Nevertheless, job satisfaction remains high among most DSNs: around 70% of respondents said that they are satisfied or very satisfied with their role overall.
Please download the full report (see downloads box) for Diabetes UK's recommendations for securing a sustainable DSN workforce.