Durham’s Just Beat It scheme to stop 1,000 a year developing diabetes

A thousand people every year in Durham will be offered a chance to change their lives and avoid developing Type 2 diabetes in a new scheme to target people at high risk.

The Just Beat It programme sees people offered long term help with diet and high intensity exercise to reduce their chances of getting it and reduce the burden of diabetes on the NHS.

Durham County Council has joined forces with Durham’s two Clinical Commissioning Groups on this project after research showed levels of T2 Diabetes were at an all-time high and set to continue to rise over the next 10 years.

They researched other successful schemes including the Diabetes Prevention Programme in the USA and Finland and developed an initial six month plan of diet and exercise classes twice a week with follow-up support for 18 months.

After getting good results on a small scale they put in a successful bid to become one of the National Diabetes Prevention Programme’s pilot schemes which is looking to trial new ways of preventing the disease in high risk patients across the country.

As part of their bid they had to show how they had already mapped out a long term plan for their area.

Around 50,000 people in the Durham area are estimated to be at high risk or very high risk of developing diabetes and could benefit from the scheme; across the 72 GP practices in Durham 115,000 are eligible for the health check this year which is carried out by community teams and GPs.

In the first 8 months of the programme 201 people at high risk were referred from the NHS Health Check programme. So far 42 people have completed the first 6 months, and 110 are currently enrolled in the groups.

It cost £317 on each person for six months of education and exercise which included a ‘movement is medicine’ type mentality and included one education and two exercise classes a week plus 18 months follow-up and support.

This included high intensity exercise and interval training for weight loss in a local sports hall and educational classroom sessions in a college classroom.

The education focused on five-a-day, behaviour change and dealing with stress.

Of the people who completed the course 100 per cent lost weight, 54 per cent reduced their at risk score, 43 per cent dropped a risk level and everyone reported that their confidence had increased.

Dr Mike Lavender, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at Durham County Council, said: “We have been very pleased by the first wave of results from Just Beat It.

“To be able to get to people and help them at an early stage before they receive the news that they have diabetes gives us is a fantastic and unique chance to help them change their lives. Anyone on the cusp of this disease is eager not to develop it in its fullest form and our programme is there as a life line to save people from hearing that news. We have helped scores of people already and now we want to help thousands.”

They are working with a group of GP practices in one of the most deprived areas of County Durham to develop a case finding programme that goes beyond the standard NHS Health Check.

This will aim to carry out risk assessments for diabetes among those who are outside the age range for NHS Health Checks and among patients with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

The Just Beat It diabetes prevention lifestyle programme will work closely with the GP practices to ensure that group work in this area will meet the needs of the patients referred.

The Just Beat It programme will introduce three new elements to the current programme.

The first builds on the North East passion for football with the aim of running intensive lifestyle programmes more suited to younger men.

The second is to train up people who have been though the Just Beat It to become champions for the programme.

They will be trained to raise awareness of the risk of diabetes and encourage people to get checked. They will also take part in group work as motivators for those just joining the programme.

The third is that they are also working with colleagues in the local mental health trust to provide a suitable intensive lifestyle programme for people with severe mental illness who are also at risk of diabetes.