NHS scheme to support people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes through digital means expanded

In pilot schemes, access to digital advice led to an increase in the number of people that committed to the programme.
By Cara Dartnell-Steinberg
05:25 am

People at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes will receive digital support through a scheme that aims to prevent the condition from developing in England, part of the NHS Long Term Plan released at the beginning of the year.


With the decision to extend this programme, 40,000 places on the Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP) will be delivered digitally. The first patients to benefit will be those who cannot access support in person.

This will provide users with wearable technology that monitors levels of exercise, apps delivering services to health coaches and educational resources, online peer support groups and the option to set and monitor goals digitally. The DPP has already helped thousands of people lose a combined 132,000 pounds, with plans to double the programme so 200,000 people can access it, according to NHS England.


Pilot schemes revealed that 24-hour access to digital advice significantly increased the number of people committing to the DPP. Nearly 70% of people referred to digital schemes took part, in contrast with approximately 50% of those offered face-to-face support.


This is part of the NHS Long Term Plan, aiming to prevent Type 2 Diabetes and expand treatment. Type 2 is one of the largest challenges to the NHS, with almost 4 million people suffering from it in England, costing the NHS more than £6bn per year. One in six hospital beds in England are occupied by people suffering from the condition and its complications. If preventative measure is not taken, 1 in 3 people will be obese by 2034 and 1 in 10 will develop Type 2. Its prevention, therefore, will significantly reduce the pressure on the NHS, as well as alleviate the risk for people who could develop diabetes.


Jonathan Valabhji, NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, said: “I’m delighted to see such a positive response among younger working age people, which shows how a digital approach can expand the reach of patients’ services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”

Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, added: “This pilot has shown that a digital version of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has the potential to encourage a wider range of people to participate.

“This could be vital in reaching more of the millions of people at risk of Type 2 diabetes, and in helping to reduce the increasing prevalence of the condition. The success of this pilot should lead to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme’s digital offering being rolled out more widely.”

Dr Jennifer Smith, diabetes programme director at Public Health England, commented: “The success of the pilot’s early findings shows we are breaking new ground to help those most at risk of type 2 diabetes to literally take their health into their own hands at their own time and pace. Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a fabulous next step in diabetes prevention.”


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