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CCGs extend courses to help prevent more people developing Type 2 diabetes

Clinicians in Suffolk and north east Essex are using National Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week (10-16 May) to promote the availability of more places on the prevention programme designed for people known to be at risk of the disease. 

There are currently 54,000 people with Type 2 diabetes in north east Essex and Suffolk. While Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle changes. The NDPP helps people make the changes necessary, supporting them to maintain a healthy weight, eat better and be more active.

The NHS National Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) is being delivered under a national three-year contract with Xyla Health and Wellbeing which has been commissioned to deliver the NHS Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme by North East Essex, Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups.

Clinicians are looking to refer nearly 5,000 people onto the programme this year. 

Covid-19 has highlighted the vulnerability of people with a long-term condition and those who are obese. Patients with Type 2 diabetes are at double the risk of dying from Covid-19 according to a study published in The Lancet. The condition is also a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and is a major contributory factor to kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. It also makes it more difficult for patients to fight serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease. 

There are an estimated 60,799 pre-diabetic people over the age of 16 in Suffolk and 32,369 in north east Essex, which is 12% of the total adult population in the region.

Dr Nirmalan de Silva, GP at Mill Road Surgery and North East Essex Diabetes Lead said: “Now more than ever we need to do all that we can to support patients identified as pre-diabetic and invite them onto the programme so they can drastically reduce their risk of developing this deceptively dangerous condition. 

“We have seen dramatic results and benefits for the first cohort of patients referred onto the course and want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to benefit. I would say to everyone who is offered a referral to the course by their GP surgery to take up the opportunity. It could not only save their lives, but improve the overall quality of their lives as well.” 

Dr David Egan, GP and Ipswich and East Suffolk Diabetes Lead said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to reach out to patients at risk and, with their involvement, help to improve their chances of staying healthier for longer. We know this course can work very well with the right support and to be able to roll it out on this scale is very exciting.

“Type 2 diabetes is currently one of the biggest threats to our population’s health and yet it’s a condition which can be delayed or prevented. I would encourage everyone at risk of diabetes to consider getting tested, especially higher risk groups such as those from Black or Asian backgrounds”

Dr Jon Ferdinand, GP at Wickhambrook Surgery and West Suffolk Diabetes Lead said: “This is a free service supporting people in creating individual diet and exercise plans based on their own preferences and needs. This tailored NHS programme is a tremendous opportunity to start afresh. 

“It’s never too late to start looking after yourself. Making changes now can help you remain as healthy and active as possible in the years to come with a better quality of life to spend time with the people around you.”

NHS England originally set the number of available course places in Suffolk and north east Essex at 1735 for the 2018-20 programme. The number of patients who attended exceeded this target by over 200%, with 4100 patients starting the course. 70.5% of those completed the course against a national average of 54.8%. 

Colin Parsons from Clacton was one of those successes. Colin was overweight and asthmatic when he started the programme; by the end he weighed three stone less and had reversed his asthma diagnosis. He said: “The benefits for me have far outweighed just weight loss. I’ve made what I learned from the programme work for me. I continue to watch what I eat, I’ve cut out the rubbish, I take regular exercise to get my heart rate up, I keep my weight down and I still drink red wine, Guinness and eat steak. It’s about doing things in moderation, not giving up everything you love. 

”I no longer snore or wheeze when lying down but more importantly when I saw my asthma nurse after I’d done the programme, she ran all the tests and told me I was no longer asthmatic and could come off the Asthma Register. I understand this is almost unheard of. I’d recommend this course to anyone who wants to improve their health, avoid the horrible complications of Type 2 diabetes and live a longer, healthier, happier life.”

NDPP coach, Andrew Harvey said: “Colin has really improved his health and wellbeing and has significantly reduced his chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. Each coach will work with a participant to set personal goals that they feel are achievable in the long term. People often think that making lifestyle changes means you have to deprive yourself all the time and that it’s just too hard to do, but with the right coaching and information most people who attend the course leave it fitter, happier and with new skills for life.”

The course is open to anyone over the age of 18 who has had a blood test within the last 24 months showing an average blood glucose level within the specified pre-diabetic range.

Patients are booked into group classes resulting in minimal waiting times following referral. These are currently being delivered remotely. The classes are available in 18 languages and participants may have a friend or relative alongside them for support or to help them understand the course material if necessary.
Those who would rather not attend group sessions for practical reasons or because they have learning difficulties or mental health issues, can request one-to-one coaching with a specialist dietician over the telephone and track their progress via an app. 

Anyone can check their own risk status and find out if they are eligible to join the programme by completing the ‘Know Your Risk’ online assessment on the Diabetes UK website: https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start

People who reach a risk score of 16 or above can refer themselves directly onto the course. Anyone with a score below 16 would need to provide proof of a blood test taken within the last two years that identifies them as at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and should contact their GP surgery to obtain this or to seek advice if they are concerned.

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