As the incidence and prevalence of diabetes increases across the world, resource pressures require doctors without specialist training to provide care for people with diabetes. In the UK, national standards have been set to ensure quality diabetes care from diagnosis to the management of complications. In a multi-centre pilot study, we have demonstrated a lack of confidence among UK trainee doctors in managing diabetes. Suboptimal confidence was identified in a number of areas, including the management of diabetes emergencies. A national survey would clarify whether the results of our pilot study are representative and reproducible.