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  • Patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria are set to benefit from expansion of the diabetes prevention programme as NHS England drives forward changes to support people to live healthier lives

Patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria are set to benefit from expansion of the diabetes prevention programme as NHS England drives forward changes to support people to live healthier lives

The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, has announced 13 new areas, including Lancashire and South Cumbria, are now live and ready to offer a leading NHS prevention programme to patients identified at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Wave 2 of the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is part of a wider package of measures to support people with diabetes and those on the cusp of it, to stay fit, well and prevent further deterioration.

People from Lancashire and South Cumbria referred by their GP on to the programme - which will be delivered locally by Reed Momenta, a national provider of lifestyle and wellbeing programmes - will get tailored, personalised help to reduce their risk. This will include education on healthy eating and lifestyle choices, reducing weight through bespoke physical exercise programmes and portion control, which together have been proven to reduce the risk of developing the disease.

The programme, which is run collaboratively by NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, was officially launched last year, with the first wave made up of 27 areas and covering 26 million people - almost half of the country. The latest national figures reveal the programme is making good progress, with just under 50,000 people referred in Wave 1 and more than 18,000 on the programme in at the end of April. This exceeds the original target set in the NHS Mandate of 10,000 referrals during 2017/18.

Wave 2 areas will cover another 25% of the population, with an estimated 130,000 referrals and up to 50,000 additional places made available thanks to the expansion. Funding has also been agreed for another 12 months in the 27 sites currently up and running.

The ambition is for the programme to eventually cover the whole of the country and these figures could rise to as many as 200,000 referrals and more than 80,000 people on programmes by 2018/19.

Early analysis is positive and suggests that just under half of those taking up the programme are men – a much higher proportion that traditional weight loss programmes, while roughly a quarter of people are from BAME communities.

Dr Rahul Thakur, GP lead for Diabetes in Pennine Lancashire, said: “This is fantastic news for people living in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire who are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is largely preventable and people can significantly reduce their risk simply by making some small lifestyle changes.

“The NHS diabetes prevention programme puts people in control of their own health by supporting them to lose weight through regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.
There are nearly 46,000 people across Lancashire who are believed to be at high risk of developing the potentially life-threatening condition – we want to do all we can to support as many people as possible to prevent Type 2 diabetes from taking hold.”

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “With more than 18,000 people in England having already started our diabetes prevention programme, the NHS is doing its bit but this is a battle we cannot win alone.”

Nearly 2.5 million adults and children in England diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes will also benefit from around £42 million of national funding which will be used to advance the care and treatment local diabetes patients receive this year.

The cash will directly support regions across England as they begin to implement change and invest in four key areas of treatment and care. The majority of the funding will focus on:

• increasing the uptake of structured education to help people look after themselves and stay healthy. This can improve glycaemic control and psychosocial wellbeing. Structured education is designed to help those people who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes and ensure that they are well informed and know how to look after themselves and stay healthy. The number of places offered will increase from 54,000 to 148,000.
• improving achievement of the NICE recommended treatment targets for controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. This can reduce the risk of complications such as kidney disease and renal failure, limb amputation and stroke and heart attacks.
• reducing the number of amputations by improving access to multi-disciplinary foot care teams in 50 parts of the country.
• reducing lengths of hospital stays by improving access to specialist inpatient access in 60 hospitals across England.

At a local level, nine clinical commissioning groups in Lancashire and South Cumbria will receive £1.14m from the national pot of money which will be used for:

• improving the achievement of the NICE recommended treatment targets
• improving uptake of structured education
• new/expanded multi-disciplinary foot care teams
• new/expanded diabetes inpatient specialist nursing teams.
Andy Curran, Medical Director for Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: "An important aspect of the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership for Lancashire and South Cumbria is that our health and care services need to work together to support people in our communities to live longer and healthier lives - including those affected by or at risk of diabetes mellitus.
“Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition which is affecting many people but that is also largely preventable. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme will put people in control of their health by giving them the tools, information and support they need to make changes to their lifestyles that can significantly reduce their risk of the disease and the potential complications associated with it like stroke and kidney failure.”

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, said: “Tackling diabetes is one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our time, as the number of people with Type 2 diabetes continues to rise. The NHS, along with its partners, is going to great lengths to help keep those with diabetes healthy. It is crucial that we have an integrated approach to tackling not just the prevention of Type 2 diabetes but also the successful management of all forms of diabetes and it is essential that we support the spread of evidence based interventions to help reduce the harm that diabetes can cause.”

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said: “While more people than ever have the condition, Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. Our prevention programme is putting people in control of their health –the results from the first year show the programme is already helping thousands of people and reaching those at higher risk.”

Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK said: “This is the first time so many local areas will receive new money to help them improve diabetes services. With three million people diagnosed with diabetes in England, it is right that the NHS is helping them avoid complications such as amputations, heart attacks and strokes. Diabetes UK’s partnership with NHS England is helping achieve the improvements people with diabetes need.”