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GP interventions see 18,000 diabetes patients take up exercise classes

GP practices have convinced 18,000 patients to take up Zumba, cookery classes and other NHS-backed lifestyle interventions as part of NHS’s flagship Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Figures produced at the launch of the second wave of the Healthier You scheme show the number of patients participating in the scheme has more than doubled from the last reported uptake.

The previous figures, to the end of January 2017, showed just 7,232 patients had actually joined the programme following a GP invitation – well short of the 20,000 target for its first year.

NHS England also announced where it would be allocating the £42m in funding for diabetes ‘transformation’ in England although it was unable to provide Pulse with a breakdown of what funding would reach GP practices.

The programme’s clinical lead has previously said NHS England doesn’t want CCGs ’handing all the funding to hospitals’ and the announcement today says funding for ‘structured education programmes’ for newly diagnosed patients will see places increase from 54,000 to 148,000.

Under the scheme, run by NHS England and Public Health England, GPs are being encouraged to target people with non-diabetic dysglycaemia who are at high risk of developing diabetes and refer them to intensive lifestyle programmes.

The scheme launched last year at seven pilot sites and was rolled out to a further 20 sites this year, with a view to getting 20,000 at-risk people starting the programme in 2016/17.

Today’s rollout will see support and funding rolled out to a further 13 parts of the country, meaning around 75% of patients can access the scheme.

In a statement NHS England said the initial uptake was ‘positive’, adding ‘just under half of those taking up the programme are men – a much higher proportion that traditional weight loss programmes, while roughly a quarter of people are from BAME communities'.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘With more than 18,000 people having already started our diabetes prevention programme, the NHS is doing its bit but this is a battle we cannot win alone.’

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