Senior DSN’s ‘deep concern’ over variation of care

DSN Erica Richardson - DPC Website

A senior diabetes specialist nurse is calling for a national qualification for healthcare professionals working in the field to reduce the variation in levels of care.

Erica Richardson, who has worked at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust since 2009, thinks the lack of an industry standard is part of the reason there is a such a huge variation of care among healthcare professionals and this is affecting patients.

She said: “GPs and practice nurses around the country are expected to deal with thousands of people with diabetes. Ranging from those who are at risk of diabetes, newly diagnosed patients and those who have complications, but often they don’t know enough about the subject and this causes large variations in the care they receive. This is deeply concerning for all those involved.

“We realise they’re trying their best in the pressurised environment we all work in, however doing a course does not make you a specialist and as there’s no real supervision to ensure they’ve reached the acceptable competence it is little wonder that there are such variations in care and it’s deeply concerning.

“The number of patients being diagnosed with diabetes is continuing to grow year on year. It’s vital we equip frontline staff so they can assist these individuals in the care and management of diabetes, as the number of people requiring help far outweighs the capacity of specialist teams.”

Erica is calling for urgent action to be taken and has been working hard in her locality and assisting with national training in her capacity as an advisor with TREND-UK, a diabetes nursing organisation.

She has been offering support to GPs and practice nurses within Shropshire should these professionals need further help in treating the complex needs of people with diabetes.

She added: “It’s really sad that in some areas, patients who have developed this condition think they’re being referred into specialist care, but the reality is very different, as there are still areas around the UK that do not have access to specialist nursing teams.

“In addition we are finding some areas are struggling to recruit into specialist nurse vacancies, especially higher graded posts, so they’re taking staff with less experience or qualifications to cover service requirements. These staff may then struggle to access peer support and maintain assessments of their own competency.

“We know healthcare professionals are trying to do their very best, but putting training aside, they’re also struggling to get access to services and equipment. Funding is a huge issue nationally. A typical example of this is access to the FreeStyle Libre, which is a postcode lottery. This causes major frustration for all those involved and ways to address these issues really need to be thought through.

“We need to come together as healthcare professionals and find a system that works, ensuring the people who need the extra diabetes support receive the right care, before their health suffers and it’s too late.”

The subject of varying diabetes care will be among the many topical issues addressed at DPC2018. Please visit our website to view the full conference and workshop programmes.

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