People in the South East who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes will now be able to sign themselves up online to join their free local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.
This new service has been launched as part of a series of measures in response to COVID-19. Recent findings show that people with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with COVID-19 but better management of the condition can help improve control and lead to better outcomes.
GP referrals have reduced due to a reduction in people presenting at their GP practice with symptoms and as a result of NHS Health Checks not being carried out as usual.
Over half a million people have been referred into the programme, and those completing the programme who were overweight or obese lost on average 3.6kg, greater than originally predicted.
People can now find out if they are eligible to join their local programme by completing the Diabetes UK risk tool at riskscore.diabetes.org.uk.
Anyone who is identified as at moderate to high risk of Type 2 diabetes using the Diabetes UK risk tool, can sign up to the programme online. During the Covid-19 pandemic the programme is being delivered remotely via group video conference, or online through apps and websites.
Anyone who is unable to use the Diabetes UK risk tool to sign up, can still be referred by their GP practice.
Dr Raj Thakkar, Long Term Conditions Lead for Thames Valley and Hampshire Clinical Networks, NHS England and NHS Improvement South East said:
“Living with Type 2 diabetes is a daily challenge for millions of people and knowing they are more at risk if they are infected with coronavirus will be worrying, but the NHS has taken action to help people and keep them safe, including the opportunity to sign up to the Healthier You programme online.
“Access to trusted information and support is key to helping people manage their diabetes. The NHS’s highly successful, world-leading diabetes prevention programme is helping hundreds of thousands of people take small steps to get control of their own health. It is a fantastic way for people who are pre-diabetic to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and the associated risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke.”
Pauline’s making a habit of her health kick with the help of online sessions
Yoga fan Pauline from Surrey joined her local Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme after being identified as being at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. For the last few months, due to social distancing restrictions, Pauline has been attending sessions online. She said:
“I find the virtual Healthier You programme sessions so useful whilst we are unable to get to physical meetings – they keep me on track and encourage me.
“I think it could be very tempting to drop out and think ‘oh, I’ll get back on the programme when life gets back to normal’ but, unfortunately, we don’t know when ‘normal’ is going to come along. Type 2 diabetes prevention needs to be a lifetime habit, not just when it’s convenient.
“I am certainly taking the opportunity to change my life for good. I was very fortunate that I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic when I was just on the borderline so the Healthier You programme has enabled me to reverse my diagnosis in three months. Now I am making my newly-learned healthy habits and lifestyle second nature.”
*Healthier You team effort pays off for Agnes
For avid line dancer Agnes Turner, the news that she was at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes wasn’t entirely unexpected. With her family history of the condition, weight and ethnicity all contributory factors in heightening her chance of developing Type 2, Agnes was determined to side-step the threat of this lifechanging condition.
After a routine blood test at her GP identified that Agnes had increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels, she was referred to her local Healthier You group, held at the Ascention Church in Bitterne Park, Southampton.
Agnes completed the 10-month insight programme into the risks and preventive measures available to avoid Type 2 and successfully lost 4.2kg and lowered her HbA1c blood sugar readings. She said:
“I enjoyed everything about attending the group and befriending other people in the same situation as me was a real bonus,” said Agnes, who is 70 years old and lives in Fair Oak. “We all got on so well and supported each other, we’ll definitely be meeting up again now the course has finished to check how we’re all progressing.
“Healthier You has helped me to look differently at the food I’m buying, checking labels and understanding what I’m eating. We weren’t preached at to stop everything we enjoy, but just to be more mindful about the importance of diet and exercise. I love attending my local line dancing group and also try to walk to work to keep my step count high each day. I’ve lost weight, reduced my cholesterol and blood sugar readings to safe levels and made a new group of friends. It really was a group effort! Most importantly, I’m positively avoiding Type 2 diabetes and setting a good example to my grandson who lives with me.”
*Agnes completed the Healthier You programme prior to the coronavirus pandemic.