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Major new programme to prevent diabetes launched

The NHS and Public Health England (PHE) have announced a major national initiative to prevent diabetes.

The NHS and Public Health England (PHE) have announced a major national initiative to prevent diabetes.

The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which was announced by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference on 12th March, is a joint initiative between NHS England, PHE and Diabetes UK, with the aim of significantly reducing the 4 million people in England who are otherwise expected to have type 2 diabetes by 2025. The programme means that England will be the first country to implement a national evidence-based diabetes prevention programme at scale.

Randomised controlled trials in Finland, the US, Japan, China and India have shown that intensive lifestyle change interventions can reduce type 2 diabetes incidence in adults at high risk of the condition by 30–60% over 3 years, and it is hoped that the programme will replicate this success. It will initially target up to 10 000 people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes across seven pilot Clinical Commissioning Groups, with national roll-out thereafter. These local schemes include drives on weight loss, physical activity, cooking, nutrition and peer support, plus telephone and online support from trained professionals. The pilot sites will test innovative ways to pinpoint those people who have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including, for example, via the NHS Health Check. The sites will be supplemented with a national procurement framework for these prevention services, and a Prior Information Notice will be issued this month to formally notify potential providers about this.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of PHE, said: “Despite type 2 diabetes being largely preventable, 2.5 million people in England already have the disease, with another 9.6 million at high risk of developing it. Our review of international evidence will soon be published, providing us with the basis for developing this programme and ensuring it provides real results in addressing the growing burden of preventable type 2 diabetes.”

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The early intervention approach of the programme will also bring about huge savings for the NHS budget, reducing spend on treating people who, without this programme, would be living with type 2 diabetes and the subsequent health complications which are also a major element of NHS costs and pressures on beds and staff.”

The announcement can be read in full here.

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