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Call to simplify diabetes nursing job titles to improve level of care made at DPC2019

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Diabetes nursing titles should be condensed into just two roles after the first-ever, England-wide Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) Audit revealed there were a total of 117 job titles.

The survey was launched by TREND-UK and unveiled at Diabetes Professional Care (DPC2019), the largest free-to-attend, CPD-accredited conference and exhibition for all healthcare professionals (HCPs) involved in the prevention, treatment and management of diabetes, and its related conditions.

Now in its fifth year, next year’s show dates have already been announced, with organisers confirming the show will take place on Wednesday, November 11 and Thursday, November 12 at Olympia, London.

TREND-UK, an organisation that represents all diabetes nursing groups, launched the poll because it wanted to investigate the number of diabetes specialist nurses (DSNs) and what their actual job titles were.

In total, the audit revealed that there were 1,872 nurses dedicated to diabetes care, with 1,831 at Band 5 or over (registered nurses).

The last time a survey focusing on diabetes specialist nursing workforce was carried out was in 2010.

However, this new audit was based on sending requests under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, meaning NHS trusts were legally obliged to return the data. Questions about nursing roles were sent to all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), hospital trusts and mental health trusts in England between February 21, 2019, and March 22, 2019.

The TREND-UK audit showed there were 117 job titles listed for nurses working in diabetes care, leading the organisation to call for greater simplicity. This would benefit people with diabetes as well as NHS employers in workforce planning, determining competency levels and study leave.

TREND-UK and Diabetes UK worked together on clarifying the role of a DSN and propose two titles to be adopted across NHS England, Diabetes Specialist Nurse at Band 6 and Senior Diabetes Specialist Nurse at Band 7.

TREND-UK is also calling for all new DSNs to meet basic competencies measured as part of an appraisal, be prepared to undertake diploma-level modules, ensure Band 7 DSNs have Non-Medical Prescribing qualification as pre-requisite/on course, and be willing to undertake a Master’s Degree.

This will ensure people with diabetes are receiving excellent diabetes care and support from a highly trained and knowledgeable nurse. This proposal is also underpinned by an Integrated Career & Competency Framework developed by TREND-UK more than 10 years ago.

TREND-UK Co-Chair Debbie Hicks said: “DSNs play a pivotal role in the care of people with diabetes. They support individuals with complex diabetes problems as well as advising and educating other non-specialist healthcare professionals in the management of the condition.

“However, there are currently too many titles leading to confusion, how do people with diabetes know what level of care to expect when there are so many different job titles?

“TREND-UK was challenged to find out exactly how many DSNs there are working in diabetes care in England. We responded with the first-ever, England-wide DSN Audit, with the findings giving us the crucial intelligence needed for workforce planning as the NHS meets the challenge of diabetes, particularly the rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

“As a DPC event partner for more than four years, we’re pleased to have been able to reveal these findings at fifth annual DPC conference last month.

“Throughout our partnership, we’ve had a shared goal of providing quality education to healthcare professionals, in a bid to improve standards of care. We hope that this research will enable the diabetes community to achieve the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan, and improve outcomes for people with diabetes.”

Latest figures from Diabetes UK suggest there are more than 3,222,500 people with diabetes in England, with calculations showing there are 0.58 nurses for every 1,000 people with diabetes.

The audit enquired about four main job titles, including DSN (56.14 per cent), Diabetes Nurse (10.22 per cent), Diabetes Inpatient Specialist Nurse (10.87 per cent) and Diabetes Nurse Educator (1.36 per cent).

Data on pay bands was also retrieved, with the majority of nurses falling into Band 6 (41.47%) or Band 7 (48.57%). Preliminary analysis of the data shows wide variations in provision of DSNs in major cities and areas. The results also indicate that 48.6 per cent of the nurses were based in hospitals, while 36 per cent were community nurses and 15.4 per cent work over both settings.

This audit was initiated in response to a challenge posed at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes.

This TREND-UK DSN Audit has been funded by Napp Pharmaceuticals Limited and Novo Nordisk. Napp Pharmaceuticals Limited and Novo Nordisk have had no input in to the management of this project.

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