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New diabetes prevention programme launched

New diabetes prevention programme launched
24th March 2016

A new service will be offered to people in England who are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

The national programme, which will launch in the spring, hopes to help 20,000 people this year alone by offering them a range of support.

Eligible patients, who will normally be referred to the service by their GP, will be given 13 sessions over the course of nine months that focus on exercise, education and making changes to their lifestyle.

Family doctors are being encouraged to identify which of their patients will most likely benefit from the intervention. This can be done by running a blood test to see whether the patient shows any signs of pre-diabetes.

The scheme's initial phase will cover 27 areas and 26 million people but it is hoped that this will be expanded to include the entire country by 2020. If the pilot is a success, the number of referrals available will increase from 20,000 to 100,000 each year.

It is expected that the programme will have a significant impact on the health service, as well as benefiting patients themselves. It is hoped that it could save the NHS millions of pounds by reducing the £1.5 million that is currently spent on diabetes every hour. 

A significant amount of this cost is spent on treating preventable complications from the condition, such as stroke.

It is estimated that there are currently around 2.6 million people with type 2 diabetes in England and, although type 1 diabetes is not preventable, many of these cases are. In addition to this, 200,000 new diagnoses are made each year and there are concerns that the obesity crisis could further exacerbate this problem.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said the scheme would have a significant impact on the number of hospital admissions, strokes and health problems arising from complications of diabetes.

"By offering targeted support for at-risk individuals, the NHS is now playing its part in the wider campaign against obesity, which is already costing the country more than we spend on the police and fire service combined," he said.

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