Promoting the role of the Nurse on World Diabetes Day

They never judge, they never give up, they make things work.

A diabetic’s view of the care the nurses provide

It is World Diabetes Day on Saturday 14 November 2020. As the number of people living with diabetes continues to rise across the World, governments and health providers must recognise the crucial role that Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSNs) play in the care and prevention of this condition.

According to Diabetes UK, there are currently 3.9 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK alone. Of these, 90% have type 2 diabetes which is largely preventable with education and lifestyle changes. By 2025, it is estimated that this figure will rise to 5.3 million.

In addition, there are said to be around a further 1 million people living with diabetes who are unaware they have it as they have not yet been diagnosed. A further 2 million are estimated to be at risk of developing it. The scale of this is thought to be even greater given the growing obesity crisis which is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, (NHS England, February 2020).

The remaining 10% of diabetics will mostly have type 1 diabetes which largely affects young people who will need phenomenal support and guidance to come to terms with this life changing condition.

Diabetes is also associated with serious complications including sight loss, heart and kidney disease and amputations. These are all the more likely if diabetes goes undetected or is poorly managed.

DSNs are wholly dedicated to diabetes care. They are often the first point of contact for patients and their specialist knowledge enables the screening, prevention and early detection of type 2 diabetes; advise and much needed practical and psychological support to those living with diabetes; and the means to refer to other specialist services or enable direct admission to hospital as required.

The socio-economic impact on the individual and on health provision is easy to comprehend and should be set in contrast to the cost of more specialist nurses for diabetes prevention programmes.

Funding more nurses must be a priority if the rising numbers of people developing diabetes or suffering from its complications are to be stemmed.

Nurses have a key role to play in educating patients of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and the life- style changes necessary to prevent the condition from developing in the first place.

There is no mistaking that diabetes is a life changing condition. The psychological impact of living with a diagnosis of diabetes is huge, on the individuals and on their families. The nurses are the constant, they are knowledgeable, empathetic, patient and resourceful and always there when needed.

What they promise, they deliver and at desperate times they make life bearable.

A diabetic’s view on the value of the nurse

To find out more about the risk factors, possible complications and why getting an early diagnosis is important, please view our Diabetes factsheet. Our NHS provides an outstanding service for the most part but sadly mistakes do happen. If you have concerns about your own treatment or that of a loved one, please contact our clinical negligence team and we will be able to advise you.