Patients registered with GP surgeries in Gloucestershire are being routinely tested for pre-diabetes, and as a result, over 3,000 people are taking positive action to reduce their very real risk of developing type 2 diabetes and complications such as heart disease and stroke.

This is thanks to an NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme Healthier You, funded by NHS England, which targets individuals who have been identified by their GP surgery as having high blood sugar levels, known as pre-diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. The good news is that it is reversible, and simple lifestyle changes can prevent or delay patients from developing type 2 diabetes.

The programme comprises group sessions covering nutrition, exercise and suggested behavioural changes to help participants achieve and maintain a healthy weight and become more physically active.

The initiative was introduced in Gloucester City and Cheltenham last year, and is now being rolled out across the county, beginning with the Forest of Dean, Stroud and Berkeley Vale.

Dr Shabari Hosur, local GP and Clinical Lead for the National Diabetes Prevention Programme at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition which can have a major impact on people and their families. It affects the entire body and increases the risk of complications, such as susceptibility to heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.

Fortunately, pre-diabetes can often be reversed and type 2 diabetes prevented by eating healthier, losing weight and being more physically active.

I really encourage people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to join the programme, which will support you step-by-step through simple lifestyle changes that will help you to change your future.”

The CCG in Gloucestershire was part of the second wave of a national rollout of the scheme. GP surgeries offer the programme to patients with a recent blood result in the range of non-diabetic hyperglycaemia, also known as ‘pre-diabetes’.

Richard Goddard from Gloucester recently completed the programme, and said:“When my GP referred me to the programme, I realised I needed to take action to sort out my sugar levels.

I’m really pleased I had the opportunity to do the course. I achieved my goals, and my sugar levels are now manageable and back in the safe zone. So now, I just need to maintain this.”

Jaine Keable from Living Well Taking Control, which is delivering the programme said:

“We are delighted that nearly 3,000 patients have now joined the programme.

The ‘Healthier You’ programme is free, and offers participants very specific help to reduce their risk of diabetes.

Initially, patients have a private meeting with a trained facilitator before joining group sessions which provide education about healthy eating and lifestyle choices, advice about reducing weight through exercise and portion control and information about food groups and food labelling.

The changes people make to their lifestyle based on learning about these topics can make huge improvements to their health.”

Debbie Pinnell, Practice Nurse at Brockworth Surgery, said:

“We’ve had a really positive response from patients since we started making referrals in July 2017. We’ve now referred 78 patients onto the scheme, whilst other local surgeries have referred up to 76% of their patients who have pre-diabetes.

It’s great to have this NHS programme available locally – it’s really making a difference to the health and well-being of our patients, by preventing them from developing Type 2 diabetes.”