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“More support than ever before” for people in East Lancashire with diabetes hails local GP lead for diabetes

People in East Lancashire who are at risk of diabetes, or who have been diagnosed with diabetes are now receiving more support than ever before, says the GP lead for diabetes, Dr Rahul Thakur.

Patients who are at risk of diabetes can sign up to “The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme” to help manage their weight and steer clear of a diabetes diagnosis.

Dr Rahul Thakur a local GP and clinical lead at East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“Most people would be shocked to know that around 22,000 people with diabetes die early every year across the country. Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and is a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.

There are currently five million people in England at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If these trends persist, one in three people will be obese by 2034 and one in 10 will develop type 2 diabetes.

There is strong international evidence which demonstrates how behavioural interventions, which support people to maintain a healthy weight and be more active, can significantly reduce the risk of developing the condition.

The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) identifies those at high risk and refers them onto a behaviour change programme”.

A lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight are all risk factors for developing the disease. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is designed to stop or delay the onset of diabetes through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions, including:

  • Education on lifestyle choice
  • Advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating
  • Bespoke physical activity programmes

Those referred by their GP, following a GP consultation, will receive tailored, personalised help to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes including education on healthy eating and lifestyle, help with weight loss (for overweight participants), and bespoke physical exercise programmes, all of which together have been proven to reduce the risk of developing the disease. Over a minimum of nine months patients will be offered at least 13 education and exercise sessions of one to two hours; at least 16 hours face to face or one-to-one in total.

Recent projections show that the growing number of people with diabetes could result in nearly 39,000 people living with diabetes suffering a heart attack in 2035 and over 50,000 people suffering a stroke. 

Nationally, over 17,000 have now completed the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme nationally and have achieved a combined weight loss of over 50,000 kg - equivalent to the weight of four double decker buses.

The NHS Long Term Plan announced that the programme which sees people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes given help to lose weight, will double in size over the next few years to treat around 200,000 people a year. 

2,526 people in East Lancashire and 1,535 people in Blackburn with Darwen have already signed up to the free programme with the vast majority benefiting from the support that it is giving to people. The combined sign up for Pennine Lancashire of 4, 061 over the last year has put Pennine Lancashire as the most successful area for people joining the programme.

From July this year, online versions of the programme, which involve wearable technologies and apps to help those at risk of type 2 diabetes, will be provided for patients who find it difficult to attend sessions because of work or family commitments.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director of diabetes and obesity said:

“Around two thirds of adults and one third of children are now overweight or obese; driving higher and higher rates of type 2 diabetes, that we are now focusing huge efforts to address, as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan. 

“I’m delighted that our work so far in this area has been producing really positive results. This weight loss and glucose reduction is promising – we hope to help many more of those who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes to not get it in the first place.” 

For people who have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCGs offer patient self-care diabetes education courses which are freely available and easy to join.

Diabetes education has been shown to reduce longer term complications of diabetes and make people feel more confident in day to day self-management.

In East Lancashire, patients can sign up to EMPOWER, and in Blackburn with Darwen, patients can sign up to DESMOND. Both of these are national, structured diabetes education programmes designed to help people with type 2 diabetes understand what diabetes is, the effect it has on their body and how to make small, achievable changes to the food they eat and their everyday life.

Both EMPOWER in East Lancashire and DESMOND in Blackburn with Darwen are run as a self-referral course which means that people who have type 2 diabetes can sign up without having to see their GP or nurse. To find out more information East Lancashire patients can go to https://east-lancs.empower-booking.co.uk/ and Blackburn with Darwen patients can go to https://www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/desmond-blackburn-with-darwen