Somerset’s doctors are taking aim at preventing diabetes in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge.

NHS England’s local programme, ‘Healthier You’, aims to reduce the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in Axbridge, Berrow, Burnham-On-Sea, Cheddar, East Brent, Highbridge and Wedmore at risk of developing the condition, after earlier launches in Bridgwater, Mendip and Taunton.

This follows highly successful recruitment to our digital prevention programme with over 900 patients across the county. 

Partner organisation Living Well Taking Control is working with GP practices to offer individuals who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes face-to-face help and support to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.

People recruited onto the new programme will benefit from Living Well Taking Control’s services to help them make healthier lifestyle choices and improve their health. 

More than 800 people in Bridgwater and Mendip have been identified as candidates for the programme and have received invitations to join the programme which is focussed on encouraging people to lower their weight, increase their amount of physical activity and improve their diet. 

Dr Henk Bruggers, GP and Clinical Lead for the programme in Somerset, said: “Tackling Type 2 diabetes is a big priority for Somerset. Like most areas of the country we are seeing an increase in new diagnoses driven by a number of lifestyle factors and we need to do all we can to reverse this trend.”

“We’re proud to be rolling out this important public health programme and we look forward to working with Living Well Taking Control to help at risk people make healthier choices about how they exercise and what they eat.” 

Rachael Rowe, Head of Long Term Conditions at NHS Somerset CCG said: “Obesity and lifestyle-related issues have taken their toll on people’s health. Also, the complications of diabetes cost society and the NHS £8.8bn a year.”

“This programme will give advice and practical help to a group of people who can drastically reduce their risk of developing the condition and associated complications, including amputation and blindness.”

Wendy Doig, of Living Well Taking Control said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to provide lifestyle interventions for the people of Somerset with the aim of helping at risk people make healthier choices about how they exercise, what they eat and how to manage their stress.”

Letters will be sent by GPs to patients deemed to be at risk to invite them onto the programme.

There are currently five million people in England at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In Somerset there are around 6,700 people identified as at risk and Public Health England Data suggests there could be 56,000 people at risk but unaware they are.

The growth in levels of obesity and lack of enough physical activity are key factors increasing risk of Type 2 diabetes. However, evidence exists which shows that many cases of Type 2 diabetes are preventable.

Diabetes has many consequences which may include vision loss, blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, heart disease, stroke and early death.

Type 2 Diabetes is largely caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and being overweight. Living Well Taking Control will be providing intensive support to people recruited on to the programme to help them make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce their risk of developing the disease.

Anyone who has taken part in the digital prevention programme will not be eligible for this stage. 

Nationally, the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is led jointly by NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK; it aims to reduce the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes. Ten per cent of the national NHS budget is spent on diabetes.

For more information on the Healthier You programme in Somerset visit the Living Well Taking Control website