People in the East Midlands who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes will now be able to sign themselves up online to join their free local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.
This new service has been launched as part of a series of measures in response to COVID-19. Recent findings show that people with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with COVID-19 but better management of the condition can help improve control and lead to better outcomes.
GP referrals have reduced due to a reduction in people presenting at their GP practice with symptoms and as a result of NHS Health Checks not being carried out as usual.
Over half a million people have been referred into the programme, and those completing the programme who were overweight or obese lost on average 3.6kg, greater than originally predicted.
People can now find out if they are eligible to join their local programme by completing the Diabetes UK risk tool at riskscore.diabetes.org.uk. Anyone who is identified as at moderate to high risk of Type 2 diabetes using the Diabetes UK risk tool, can sign up to the programme online. During the Covid-19 pandemic the programme is being delivered remotely via group video conference, or online through apps and websites.
Anyone who is unable to use the Diabetes UK risk tool to sign up, can still be referred by their GP practice.
Even when lockdown restrictions were imposed, 53-year-old John Harrison, who lives in a Nottinghamshire village, was not going to be sent off course in his weight-reduction campaign. His local Healthier You diabetes prevention service provided the support he still required through video conferencing.
The programme, run in the East Midlands by Ingeus, arranged a series of remote sessions through video conferencing that enabled John to discuss his progress and helped to re-enforce the central messages that have seen John's weight drop from 127kg in April 2019 to 79kg just 14 months later.
“Healthier You does not dictate what you should do, rather the key information is fully explained to help you understand how certain choices can increase the chances of developing diabetes,” says John. “Deciding on which changes to introduce is down to the individual. After all, you are the best person to make those decisions about your own lifestyle.”
“Now I am 79kg, my quality of life has really improved and these days I can do so much more without feeling exhausted,” adds John. “I can buy and wear fashionable clothes including skinny jeans. During lockdown the group meetings became virtual get-togethers, which was really useful. The online contact enabled us to ask questions and keep our momentum going.”
Professor Azhar Farooqi, Co-Clinical Director for the Midlands Cardiovascular Disease and Respiratory Network and GP at East Leicester Medical Practice, said:
“Living with Type 2 diabetes is a daily challenge for millions of people and knowing they are more at risk if they are infected with coronavirus will be worrying, but the NHS has taken action to help people and keep them safe, including the opportunity to sign up to the Healthier You programme online. .
“Access to trusted information and support is key to helping people manage their diabetes. The NHS’s highly successful, world-leading diabetes prevention programme is helping hundreds of thousands of people take small steps to get control of their own health.”