Putting specialist diabetes nurses in emergency medical units could save the NHS £100m a year, research suggests.
Diabetes nurses can offer specialist care
In a year-long trial, the nurses made daily weekday visits to the emergency unit at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
They identified 111 people with diabetes of which 47 were discharged within 24 hours, compared with the average stay of 11 days.
The researchers calculated this saved the hospital £111,155 during the year.
If the Leicester experience - which saw the number of hospital days taken up caring for diabetes patients cut by 42% - was replicated nationwide, then the NHS would save almost £100m.
People with diabetes are admitted to hospital twice as often and stay twice as long as those without diabetes, occupying one in 10 hospital beds.
It is estimated that, in total, people with diabetes spend 1.1 million days in hospital a year.
Better care, less cost
Researcher Helen Atkins, a specialist diabetes nurse, said: "Our research shows how proactive DSN (diabetes specialist nurse) intervention can facilitate more appropriate care and help save money.
"In addition, our trial only used a DSN from Monday to Friday. Extending the service to weekends could generate even more savings."
Following the success of the trial the Leicester hospital has also extended the service to A&E, and other medical admissions units.
Douglas Smallwood, of the charity Diabetes UK, said: "DSNs are already seen as the lynchpin of the healthcare team by people with diabetes in their ongoing care.
"This research is yet further proof of the vital role DSNs play in improving the health of people with diabetes and the financial woes of the NHS.
"With spiralling rates of diabetes, the government has to look to long term solutions and invest in specialist staff such as DSNs."
Ann Keen, the junior health minister, said the research chimed with findings from the National Diabetes Support Team which has published a report on improving emergency and inpatient care for people with diabetes.
She said: "It is vital that people with diabetes in hospital are identified and treated accordingly, and diabetes specialist nurses can play a valuable role."
In the UK, there are currently 2.3 million people diagnosed with diabetes.