New NHS online support for Type 2 diabetes

NHS advice will be offered online to people with type 2 diabetes to help them manage their condition via a first of its kind service.

The new offer, will mean people with type 2 diabetes have evidence-based information and support available at the touch of a button, via an online portal, giving them convenient and quick help to deal with the physical and mental challenges of diabetes.

The resource will make the right advice available from home, work or on the move, helping people manage their health and wellbeing independently, potentially preventing the need for extra medical attention or the condition becoming worse.

Trials of the online package showed people making use of the online courses and information reduced their blood glucose levels, a crucial part of managing type 2 diabetes.

Eleven sites will now pilot the new service later this year, with a national roll out from 2020.

There are currently more than 2.8 million people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and a further 750,000 people are believed to be living with the condition undiagnosed.

Trialled through funding from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), the service demonstrated significant improvements in people’s average blood sugar and an improvement in the mental health of people newly diagnosed with the condition.

Following the successful trial, a range of online tools, resources and support services will now be made available, including:

  • Educational courses supporting lifestyle changes to help people better manage their diabetes
  • Trustworthy information relating to lifestyle choices including diet, exercise and managing alcohol consumption
  • Support for emotional wellbeing, including to manage the distress people can experience when first diagnosed with the condition

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity for NHS England said:

“Living with Type 2 diabetes is a daily challenge for millions, as well as a growing issue for our NHS, which is why the Long Term Plan for the health service sets out ambitious, innovative and evidence-backed measures to prevent and manage the condition.

“Access to trusted information and support is key to helping people manage their diabetes and this online tool helps deliver this as part of our Long Term Plan to tackle major conditions and diseases.

“We are living in an increasingly digital age with people managing most aspects of their life online, the rollout of this programme will give people the opportunity to get support for their Type 2 diabetes online too.”

Seema Kennedy, Public Health Minister said:

“There are millions of people with type 2 Diabetes who are at increased risk of heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and ultimately a shorter life. This is preventable, and the new online tool being rolled out on the NHS will offer simple advice on diet, exercise and emotional support that could make all the difference.

“Through our Long Term Plan for the NHS we want to do more to empower people with easy-to-use digital tools and information to take care of their own health – I am delighted that people are already seeing the benefits of this government’s record funding increase to the NHS budget.”

Alan, 71 from Sunderland who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002 has already benefited from the resource. He said: “When I was diagnosed it was a shock to the system and I didn’t know anything about Type 2 diabetes. I wish that a website like this would have been available for me back then. It’s a really useful tool that I would urge all GPs to recommend to people with the condition.

“My first piece of advice to anyone diagnosed with any form of diabetes is to learn as much as possible about it. This tool is a great way to do that – the more you know, the better you can manage your condition.”

Professor Elizabeth Murray (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care), said:

“Online programmes offer individuals the flexibility to access support that fits around their lifestyle. All the content in our programme was evidence based drawing on a range of diabetes management research including behavioural change, accessibility and usability, and promoting emotional wellbeing by drawing on principles of cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness.

“We are delighted that the proven benefits of this programme for people with type 2 diabetes can be made available to everyone in England.  It is great to see the advantages of online interventions (scalability and cost-effectiveness) being realised in the NHS.”

Professor Elaine Hay, Programme Director at the NIHR, said:

“This research exemplifies NIHR’s work to support science that involves patients and produces results and innovations that benefit them within the NHS.”

Approximately 10% of health expenditure in England is associated with diabetes, costing around £10bn per year in costs to the NHS, largely due to preventable complications.

The NHS in England is now delivering a range of services to tackle diabetes, including the Diabetes treatment and care programme, and NHS Diabetes prevention programme, which has seen 17,000 people with type two diabetes make significant improvements in their health, including losing a combined 60,000 kilograms.

The areas of the country where people will be invited to trial the new programme, ahead of a nationwide roll-out are:

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Northamptonshire
  • South East and South West London
  • North West London
  • Cumbria and North East
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate
  • Surrey Heartlands
  • Gloucestershire