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Diabetes specialist nurses help drive care improvement

Diabetes UK is recruiting more Clinical Champions, including diabetes specialist nurses, to become leaders of change and improve care locally.

The latest cohort of Diabetes UK Clinical Champions will begin training soon and the charity has been highlighting the importance of having specialist nurses amongst the applicants for the voluntary role. "Diabetes specialist nurses are the lynchpins of quality diabetes care," said Chief Executive Barbara Young. "As well as being a vital link between hospitals and community services, they train other healthcare professionals about diabetes care, give people the education they need to manage their own condition, and help make sure people with diabetes get the hospital care they need."

Diabetes UK originally launched the Clinical Champions programme in 2014. The aim was to create a network of healthcare professionals with the 'clinical expertise, leadership skills and passion to improve care locally for people living with diabetes'.  There are currently 45 Clinical Champions working across all four nations of the UK, including hospital consultants and doctors, GPs, dietitians and diabetes specialist nurses. This, in turn, is also helping to relieve the pressures felt by those working in dietetic jobs, clinical science jobs and other health science jobs who have an equally important role to play in improving care for people with diabetes.

Diabetes specialist nurses provide complex diabetes care in a range of NHS settings, with many working across a combination of primary, community and inpatient care. Evidence shows that they are cost effective, improve clinical outcomes and that they can either help avoid hospital admissions or at least reduce the length of stays for diabetes patients. According to a 2012 article published in the Journal of Diabetes, a 1000-bed hospital that employs a diabetes specialist team - including diabetes specialist nurses - with staffing costs of £170,000 a year can save between £1.5million and £4.4 million annually on other NHS costs, which includes reducing hospital stays for these patients by 1.4 days. Despite this and many success stories over the last two decades or so, the 2016 National Diabetes Inpatient Audit found that 27.5% of hospitals still have no specialist diabetes inpatient nurses.

A diabetes specialist nurse in Wales has recently been nominated for the Patient Choice Award in the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017. Sian Bodmin is the diabetes lead nurse at the Aneurin Bevan Health Board and was nominated by patient Lynne Lewis, on behalf of so many other people that she said had been helped by Sian. Lynne Neagle, Welsh Assembly Member for Torfaen. praised the work of Sian and others in a recent article in the South Wales Argus: "The staff are the most valuable asset our NHS has. High quality, compassionate care is delivered every day by nurses across Wales. We cannot say thank you enough to NHS staff like Sian."

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