GPs to refer at-risk patients to personalised diabetes prevention schemes

GPs in parts of England will soon be able to refer high-risk patients onto a personalised scheme to help prevent them from developing type 2 diabetes, NHS leaders have announced.

Weight-loss programmes part of drive to stop diabetes (Photo: JH Lancy)
Weight-loss programmes part of drive to stop diabetes (Photo: JH Lancy)

The Healthier You diabetes prevention programme, jointly launched by NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK, is the world’s first nationwide preventative programme to help stop people developing type 2 diabetes.

Health bosses said the scheme will help slash the growing burden of diabetes on NHS budgets by preventing the disease before it can manifest for tens of thousands of patients. Roughly 10% of the total NHS spend – around £10bn a year – goes on diabetes care.

Over the coming months, GPs in 27 areas across the country will be able to refer patients at high-risk of developing diabetes – as according to NICE criteria – onto a personalised scheme to help them lose weight and improve their general health.

In the first wave, 20,000 places will be available. By 2020, NHS England says up to 100,000 patients will have been referred onto the programme, with a further 100,000 spaces available each year thereafter.

Diabetes prevention

Over nine months, selected patients will receive tailored help to cut their risk of developing the disease, including education on healthy eating and lifestyle and bespoke exercise programmes and help to lose weight. Patients will be offered at least 13 one- to two-hour sessions.

These measures combined have been ‘proven to reduce the risk of developing the disease’, said NHS England.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘By offering targeted support for at-risk individuals, the NHS is now playing our part in the wider campaign against obesity – which is already costing the country more than we spend on the police and fire service combined.

‘The benefits for patients will show up as hospitalisations prevented, strokes avoided and amputations averted. This programme is a reminder that the ‘H’ in NHS stands for health.’

PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie added: ‘Type 2 diabetes is one the biggest health challenges of our time and millions of people in England are at risk of developing this serious disease.

‘This personalised, tailored programme for people at risk will offer support on improving their lifestyle habits, including getting more exercise, a better balanced diet and losing and keeping off excess weight – helping people to take more control of their health and ultimately prevent them developing what is potentially a life threatening condition.’

Over 2.6m patients in England currently live with type 2 diabetes and around 200,000 more are diagnosed every year – equivalent to over 500 per day.

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