Type 2 diabetes prevention programmes launches

Primary care nurses can refer patients at risk

Nurses in primary care and GPs can refer patients at risk of type 2 diabetes to a new prevention programme.

Up to 100,000 people in England will be offered places on the Healthier You programme by 2020 following an NHS health check. The scheme is being run collaboratively by NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK.

Those offered places will receive personalised exercise regimes, healthy eating plans and support with stress management, eating behaviour and staying motivated, delivered by professionals including specialist diabetes nurses.

Type 2 diabetes is often preventable, yet one in six people in hospital have diabetes. The £10 billion spent every year on diabetes care accounts for roughly 10% of the total NHS spend. 

Claire Neely, lead diabetes specialist nurse at Kingston Hospital and Surrey Downs diabetes service, said: ‘The type 2 diabetes patients that I see in secondary care often say they wish they had known about diet and exercise before they developed diabetes. Even though they receive medication, we always go back to diet and exercise.

‘We do a sugar game with newly diagnosed patients. For example, we ask questions such as “how much sugar is there in a can of Coke?” People are astonished to learn that it is 12 cubes.’

Seven regional prevention programmes have been piloted and 20 more will begin this year. 

Bradford Beating Diabetes intensive lifestyle community programme lead Nurjahan Ali Arobi said: ‘We’re in touch with the various cultural communities and lots of people have made lifestyle changes. Their family and friends are making changes too – we have started a little movement.’

PHE and NHS England’s national clinical adviser and Runcorn GP Matt Kearney said many GPs and nurses in primary care were frustrated because previously there was no such service for patients at risk of type 2 diabetes. 

He said: ‘If we see the rise in diabetes as predicted, it will break the NHS bank. For NHS nurses and doctors, this is a game changer. On top of the sugar tax, it is very welcome.’

However, RCN professional lead on long-term conditions Amanda Cheesley said: ‘My concern is that the primary care conversations will be with practice nurses, and the practice nurse population is limited.’

There are currently 2.6 million people with type 2 diabetes in England, and around 200,000 new diagnoses are made every year – more than 500 a day.

Obesity and unhealthy lifestyles are the most potent risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and in England 61.3% adults and 30% of children aged two to 15 are overweight or obese. 

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