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NHS England rolls out world’s first national diabetes prevention programme

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1669 (Published 22 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1669
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. London

One hundred thousand people in England will be recruited to the world’s first nationwide diabetes prevention programme by 2020, NHS England has announced.

The joint initiative by NHS England, Public Health England, and Diabetes UK will begin this year with 20 000 places being made available in 27 areas, covering 26 million people (about half of the population in England). The programme will cover the whole country by 2020, and then 100 000 places will be available each year.

Patients referred to Healthier You: the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme will receive tailored, personalised help to reduce the patient’s type 2 diabetes risk, including healthy eating and lifestyle education, help to lose weight, and bespoke physical exercise programmes. Over a period of nine months patients will be offered at least 13 education and exercise sessions of one to two hours a session, at least 16 hours of which will be face to face or one to one. Areas will be able to select from a list of four providers to deliver the services.

During the past year, seven “demonstrator” sites trialled different models for identifying high risk patients. Based on what has been learnt, GPs will be able to refer eligible patients to the programme, and patients at risk will also be referred after an NHS Health Check. To be eligible for the programme, patients must have taken a blood test during the preceding 12 months that indicated a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance criteria. The NICE criteria are defined as HbA1c 42-47 mmol/mol (6.0-6.4%) or fasting plasma glucose 5.5-6.9 mmol/L.

Currently, 2.6 million people have type 2 diabetes in England, with around 200 000 new diagnoses every year. One in six of all people in hospital have diabetes, and, while diabetes is often not the reason for admission, people with diabetes often need a longer stay in hospital, are more likely to be readmitted, and have a higher risk of dying.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said, “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.”

The programme launch coincides with Public Health England’s new national campaign, One You, which encourages people in midlife to take control of their health and make better lifestyle choices, helping them to prevent ill health and to live well for longer.

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