Diabetes services to hit ‘crisis point’

Diabetic – More people diagnosed

Are you diabetic? A diabetes advocate has warned services for people with the disease are at “crisis point” in Palmerston North.

More and more people are getting diagnosed, meaning healthcare providers are feeling the pinch, and leading to some worrying about “substantial gaps” in services.

More than 9000 people in the area covered by the MidCentral District Health Board have diabetes, just over 5 per cent of the population.

Those numbers could increase even more, as many people who were pre-diabetic or susceptible to the disease were in the dark about their risk, said Diabetes Manawatu president Kath Scott, herself a type-1 diabetic.

A diabetes advocate has warned services for people with the disease are at "crisis point"

At a meeting of MidCentral’s quality and excellence committee this week, members were given a report about the district’s diabetes specialist services, which found its capacity was “inadequate” in providing the support needed by its patients.

Because of the growing number of diabetics in the region, Scott, speaking away from the meeting, said these problems needed sorting out.

“I think if they don’t address the issue it will be at crisis point.”

Scott, a diabetic for more than 40 years, said both health services and patients ought to be well informed about the disease.

Other Recommended Reading

Substantial Gaps

Paediatrician and report co-author Nicola Pereira told the committee at the meeting there were “substantial gaps” in the acute care of people with diabetes and the care of people in secondary services.

There were more diabetics with non-complex problems being admitted to Palmerston North Hospital and staying for longer.

There were also concerns about the hospital’s capacity, low insulin pump rates, and staffing, she said.

The Ministry of Health recommends hospitals have a specialist nurse for every 300 hospital beds.

However, MidCentral only has a quarter of such a fulltime equivalent for about 350 hospital beds, which “falls far short” of the ministry’s benchmark, Pereira said.

Pereira said the number of people suffering from diabetes had increased by nearly 7 per cent in the region each year, for the past five years.

There had also been a spike in the number of women with gestational diabetes and women with the disease having children, up from 48 in 2008 to 190 in 2016.

“Over the last five years, we’ve had a 295 per cent increase in demand for diabetes pregnancy services,” Pereira said.

More Support Needed

Care services needed more support, including educating and mentoring staff, to better help patients, she said.

“We feel that it’s extremely important to address the deficiencies in in-reach support, and in order to do that, we require a 1.5 nursing fulltime equivalent.”

The MidCentral DHB project team report given to the committee says that during a site visit in December, the ministry showed concern about “some of the capacity and service-access issues” in specialist care for diabetes sufferers.

It also found there was a decline in “practice standards” in the quality of care and documentation.

MidCentral chief executive Kathryn Cook said the DHB’s executive leadership team had endorsed the recommendations made in the report.

Investing in the project would “pay for itself, in my view”, she said.

Board member Diane Anderson said it “wouldn’t take rocket science” to see there needed to be some commitment to the area.

adapted from source