National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme

On March 12th 2015, a joint alliance between Public Health England, NHS England and Diabetes UK announced the start of a national initiative to prevent Type 2 diabetes called the National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. It aims to reduce the 4 million in England otherwise expected to have Type 2 diabetes by 2025.

The press release states that well designed randomised controlled trials in various other countries show 30 to 60% reductions in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes over 3 years in adults at high risk by intensive lifestyle change programmes. These programmes involve supporting people to lose weight, exercise and eat better. It appears that the aim in England is to copy this success.

The new Programme will start by targeting 10,000 people at high risk if developing Type 2 diabetes and will be rolled out nationally later. Initially, there will be 7 sites involved and they will investigate ways to pinpoint people at high risk. Public Health England is also working with Imperial College Hospitals which have started a weight loss pilot for NHS staff which could provide a blueprint for the national roll out.

Independent Diabetes Trust response

IDDT issued a public response to this press release in which we welcomed the announcement of the National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme as the rise in Type 2 diabetes is a problem for both people who develop it and for the NHS.

However, we added that we need to know more specific details about how the programme will work as there are many unanswered questions. For example, helping people to change their lifestyle requires education and ongoing support because evidence suggests that without ongoing support, people simply revert to their previous habits.

A further important question is where will the resources come from? Clearly, such an ambitious programme will require additional resources, not just funding but increased numbers of GPs and health professionals. We already have a situation where many people already living with diabetes are not receiving the 9 key annual health checks to prevent or delay the complications of the condition, so an expansion of staffing levels is essential for people already diagnosed. Rolling out this prevention programme nationally will significantly add to this need for extra resources or are there plans to hand the programme to the private sector?

We look forward to hearing more detailed plans of how the prevention programme will be rolled out nationally to provide the public across the country with equal access to the Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Response from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP)

The RCGP welcomed the Prevention Programme and acknowledged that Type 2 diabetes is a debilitating condition that simple lifestyle changes can go a long way to preventing its onset. They point out that simply telling people what to do is not enough and lifestyle changes require ongoing support and access to help over time and that GPs are well placed to prevent illness. However, they need more specific details about how the scheme will work and also assurances that general practice will have the appropriate resources, including more GPs.

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