‘Better training needed to improve care for those living with diabetes’
By Simon O’Neill, Director of Health Intelligence and Professional Liaison at Diabetes UK
We all know that treating diabetes costs the NHS an incredible amount of money – around £10 billion a year – but Diabetes UK believes that money should be invested more wisely, beginning with ensuring that healthcare staff who treat people with diabetes have the right training and skills. Research1 carried out by Diabetes UK earlier this year, found that sixty per cent of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England which took part in the charity’s online poll do not fund specific diabetes education for their healthcare professionals, and almost half do not assign time for them to undertake diabetes-related education, training or development.
While we appreciate that some CCGs are setting examples of good practice, results such as these support our concerns that care is being provided to people with diabetes by staff who may not have an adequate level of knowledge about this complex condition. To help address this knowledge gap Diabetes UK and Bupa have developed a free e-learning programme called ‘Diabetes in Healthcare’ which can be accessed at www.diabetesinhealthcare.co.uk.
Aimed at healthcare professionals who are not diabetes specialists, the programme provides expert content on both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It discusses how the conditions are diagnosed, treated and monitored, and symptoms to look out for in those who may have diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed.
The feedback from users of the programme is very encouraging. Of a survey of 188 people who had completed ‘Diabetes in Healthcare’2, 77 per cent felt more confident in treating people living with diabetes, while 79 per cent said that their knowledge about the condition had increased. These results suggest that access to diabetes-specific training could have a real impact on the care provided to those living with the condition.
Comprehensive diabetes-specific training across the NHS could not only mean better outcomes for people living with this condition but could save money in the long-term
We are now urging the NHS to implement a national competency framework that will provide clear guidance for the NHS, from GP practices to large hospitals, to help identify which staff should receive diabetes training and how and when training should be provided. The framework will also ensure that all healthcare professionals can demonstrate an appropriate level of care for people with diabetes.
Comprehensive diabetes-specific training across the NHS could not only mean better outcomes for people living with this condition but could save money in the long-term, as it would help staff understand the need for early intervention and how to prevent devastating complications caused by diabetes such as blindness, amputation and stroke.
The ‘Diabetes in Healthcare’ e-learning programme developed by Diabetes UK and Bupa can be accessed for free at www.diabetesinhealthcare.co.uk.