NHS England has said the Healthier You diabetes prevention programme – the first of its kind – will help make England ‘the best country on the planet’ at preventing diabetes.
The first 10 sites – in Leeds, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Herefordshire, Berkshire, south London, east London and Durham – are expected to start taking referrals ‘in the next two to four weeks’.
Patients referred onto the scheme will receive tailored help to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including education on healthy eating and lifestyle, help to lose weight and bespoke physical exercise programmes.
These interventions have ‘been proven to reduce the risk of developing the disease’, NHS England said.
The scheme will roll out across a total of 27 areas throughout the rest of 2016, covering around half of the population – some 26m patients.
It will be available to all patients after staggered roll out by 2020, by which date there will be around 100,000 places on programmes available each year, it said.
GP Dr Matt Kearney, NHS England’s national clinical director for cardiovascular disease prevention, said: ‘Every year we see the progressive rise of overweight and obesity among our patients, with increasing numbers developing type 2 diabetes.
‘As a result of this we see more people developing the serious complications of diabetes at an earlier age – heart attacks and strokes, kidney, eye and foot problems, all increasing the risk of early death or major disability in relatively young people.
‘GPs and nurses are well aware of the need to take action to reduce the risk. Once up and running we will be able to refer patients on to the programme, knowing they will be offered intensive professional support to lose weight, improve their diet and increase physical activity – all known to reduce the risk of diabetes.’