Published on 8 July 2016

The new NHS diabetes prevention programme has been launched as part of the NHS commitment to tackling obesity and reducing the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes.

Thousands of people at high risk of type 2 diabetes in 10 areas will be amongst the first to benefit from the first ever national scheme of its kind in the coming weeks.

The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme was launched in April and the NHS hopes up to 100,000 people a year will benefit from it by 2020 and beyond.

A healthy and more active lifestyle is recommended for people at risk of type 2 diabetes

The first 10 sites, expected to start taking referrals in the next two to four weeks, will be: Leeds, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Birmingham, East Midlands, Herefordshire, Berkshire, South London, East London and Durham. Providers of the services were chosen in each area through mini-competitions.

The East Midlands is likely to be the largest referrer where around 13,000 people are expected to be seen during 2016-18. Next largest will be South London referring up to 9,200 followed by Leeds with up to 7,200.

To begin with the Healthier You programme will be rolled out to 27 areas in 2016, covering 26 million people, around half of the population, and making up to 40,000 referrals in 2016.

The introduction of the programme will be staggered by area, with the aim of reaching the whole country by 2020 - with an expected 100,000 places on programmes available each year after.

Those referred to the programme will get tailored, personalised help to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. This will include education on healthy eating and lifestyle, help to lose weight and relevant physical exercise programmes, all of which together have been proven to reduce the risk of developing the condition.

There are currently 2.6 million people with type 2 diabetes in England, with around 200,000 people diagnosed each year. While type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle changes.

One in six of all people in hospital have diabetes and whilst diabetes is not always the reason for admission, they often need a longer stay in hospital.

Dr Matt Kearney, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and a GP in Runcorn, 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.”

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