Tackling the onset of type 2 diabetes during a pandemic

Following the government’s incentive to tackle obesity, in light of the heightened risk it poses to people with COVID-19, Cornwall’s Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme is hoping to build upon the momentum as it shares a similar goal.
The programme has been empowering people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to take charge of their health and wellbeing in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly since 2017. It aims to educate the county’s residents of the severity of type 2 diabetes and help those most vulnerable to the condition get the support they need.

The NHS is also encouraging people with diabetes to visit their GP. As Cornwall emerges from the coronavirus pandemic patients with diabetes are now being urged to take up the offer of appointments and health checks.

Attendance dropped sharply during lockdown, posing an increased risk of serious complications that can damage the feet, eyes, heart and kidneys.

While more people have been coming back since May, the NHS aims to get numbers to pre-pandemic levels by the autumn and to tackle the backlog. Read more about the push on NHS England and NHS Improvement South West’s website.

Janine Ogborne, diabetes project manager at NHS Kernow, is leading Cornwall’s Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme.

She said: “Prevention from developing type 2 diabetes is helping people adopt a healthier outlook concerning both food and exercise which simultaneously improves peoples’ mental health and wellbeing. Other positives of decreasing the risk of the condition are by losing weight with benefits such as decreased risk of stroke and heart attack, sight loss, kidney failure or even the loss of a limb.”

“It’s understandable during the global COVID-19 pandemic that people have been worried and spending more time indoors, perhaps finding comfort in food and restricted exercise. However, with the recent findings stating that a third of all coronavirus deaths were people with diabetes it’s important to re-evaluate your lifestyle choices. We are here to help people make the necessary changes and the new Diabetes UK risk score tool is a great way of starting this health journey, recognising the capacity and clinical pressures faced by general practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The new self-referral scheme is an online tool which allows anyone to input their information and evaluate whether they might be likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years, without the need to visit their GP. More than one million people have completed the online assessment so far and in its first week there were one hundred self-referrals in the UK.

Once a person has completed the tool they may be eligible to take part in the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which is facilitated in towns and cities across the UK by WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, who are currently meeting virtually on a weekly basis.

When she began working with Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme Janine thought she was healthy however one day, curious at finding out more, she took the test.

She said: “I was shocked to discover three years ago that I was in the at high risk category of developing diabetes in the next 10 years! It made me re-evaluate my lifestyle and I’m so glad I used the tool, I’ve changed my eating habits and have increased my exercise and am no longer at risk and feel much happier about my overall health now.”

Nationally 10% of all NHS funding is spent treating and tackling diabetes and this could be minimised if people increased the amount they exercise and considered a balanced diet.

Conservative MP Scott Mann of North Cornwall is supporting the work by the NHS around diabetes.

He said: “I first met Janine when I was canvassing in Padstow for the last election. I’m so pleased she got in touch with me again following the government’s announcement of the Better Health campaign, which shares a goal with Cornwall’s Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in improving the public’s overall health.”

“Adopting a healthier lifestyle and exercising regularly are fundamental to our wellbeing and it’s especially important that we look after our own health as much as we can right now, in order to help the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Janine’s work with the programme is invaluable and I think the new online self-referral tool is a great way for people in Cornwall to kick start their health journey,” he added.

Cornwall’s Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is on hand to help the public with concerns they may have regarding adopting a healthier lifestyle and the self-referral tool from Diabetes UK is allowing many people to refer themselves, if they are unable to access their GP surgery due to the current circumstances in light of COVID-19. Use the self-referral tool now to find out your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Added on 4 September 2020, in News - General news / Long term conditions