A retired police officer from Eastbourne has a new lease of life, thanks to a diabetes prevention programme.
Peter Stevens is one of 79,000 people at risk of developing diabetes in East Sussex. The 79-year-old was struggling with shortness of breath and numbness in his feet. His GP detected high sugar levels in his blood, advised him to make some lifestyle changes and referred him to the local Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention programme.
In the first five weeks of the programme Peter lost almost a stone in weight and has lowered his cholesterol level. His wife Cynthia has also been referred to the programme. Together the couple regularly attend sessions near their home which look at the causes and remedies of Type 2 diabetes, encourages patients to achieve a healthy weight, be physically active and eat a balanced diet.
Cynthia said, “It’s great to attend the group together. We can encourage and support each other at home and between us we have no excuse for forgetting any details. Being with other patients in the group also generates a bit of competitive spirt so its good fun to go each time and see how we are all progressing.”
Peter, a keen rugby player in his younger days, added, “Making quite minimal lifestyle changes like eating fruit instead of cakes and biscuits and taking regular short walks, delivers significant results. It’s a small price to pay to avoid the danger of becoming diabetic.”
Healthier You was launched in East Sussex last September and in the last ten months almost 2,000 have been referred on to the free programme.
Dr Alison Barnett, chair of the South East steering group for the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, said, “Type 2 diabetes can have a major impact on people and their families. Complications can include heart disease, damage to your vision, kidney disease and foot problems. But you can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by making a few simple lifestyle changes. When people get invited for an NHS health check I would encourage them to attend and if their blood sugar is high and indicates that they are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to ask their GP to refer them to the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention programme.”
Sixty-nine courses are currently running across Sussex by Ingeus – a leading provider of person-centred health programmes.
Ian Reddington, the company’s Operations Lead for the programme in the south east said, “More than three million people in England already have Type 2 diabetes and that number is rapidly rising. Yet the illness is largely preventable. The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention programme is making great progress in supporting people to understand their risk of developing diabetes and to make the lifestyle changes needed to reduce that risk.”
Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is a joint commitment from NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK. Diabetes currently accounts for around 10% of the annual NHS budget; nearly £10 billion a year.