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NHS rolls out diabetes prevention programme

Tagged In:  Allied Health, Nursing

The first ever national NHS diabetes prevention programme, 'Healthier You', is gearing up to start taking referrals at its first 10 sites. The scheme aims to identify those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and refer them to an evidence-based behaviour change programme, with a focus on healthy eating and physical activity. Type 2 diabetes is largely caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and, most importantly, being overweight.


'Healthier You' will roll out to 27 areas this year, covering 26 million people and making up to 40,000 referrals. It's expected to cover the rest of the country by 2020, with an expected 100,000 places available each year thereafter.

With five million people in England at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it's a major challenge for our health service. If current trends persist, one in three people will be obese by 2013 and one in 10 will develop Type 2 diabetes.

22,000 people with diabetes die early each year and it's a leading cause of preventable sight loss, as well as a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. Therefore, it's not just GP surgeries and community nurses that will increasingly feel the strain, but also hospital clinical staff and allied health professionals. One in six of all people in hospital have diabetes and often need to stay longer or are more likely to be readmitted. "GPs and nurses are well aware of the need to take action to reduce the risk," said Dr Matt Kearney, NHS England's National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.

One of the first 10 'Healthier You' sites is the South London Partnership, which includes 12 CCGs and 12 local authorities. "Across the capital, there are currently 475,000 peo­ple living with diabetes, with a further 200,000 people estimated to be diagnosed with the condition by 2025," commented NHS England Regional Director Anne Rainsberry. "It's great news that Londoners who are at risk will have this opportunity to make positive, healthier changes to their lifestyles through the National Diabetes Prevention Programme. It's also good to see CCGs and local authorities working closely together to make a real difference to local people."

Diabetes UK estimates that the disease costs the NHS around £9 billion each year already. Experts and health chiefs are warning that, if we don't act now, the stress on NHS resources could become intolerable, with already overstretched doctors and nurses simply unable to cope with demand. In an interview with the Independent in August last year, Martin McShane, NHS England's National Medical Director for Long Term Conditions, warned, "We've said it before and we'll say it again, it's time to get serious about lifestyle change. Prevention is better than treatment for individual health as well as the health of the NHS."

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