People at high risk of developing type II diabetes will be fast-tracked into the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention programme, on the back of research indicating that people with the condition are at significantly higher risk of dying with COVID-19.
The nine-12 month programme – the first initiative of its kind globally – is designed to support weight loss and healthier habits, has already shown success, with those completing the programme who were overweight or obese losing on average 3.6kg.
Under normal circumstances, people were referred to the programme by a GP following a blood test, but the risk of coronavirus has slashed the number of face-to-face GP appointments blood tests.
From today, the public will be able to use an online tool, hosted by Diabetes UK, to calculate their risk of developing type II diabetes by answering a series of basic questions.
If their score comes back as moderate or high, they will now be able to self refer to a local Healthier You service for support remotely or online, without having to go through a healthcare professional.
A national campaign to target Black and South Asian communities will also launch in August to target those groups who are more at risk of Type 2 diabetes at younger ages, and also more at risk of coronavirus.
The move follows research showing that a third of people who died in hospital from COVID-19 had diabetes.
“The evidence is now in: severe obesity can double your chance of dying from coronavirus. So this pandemic is a call to arms to adopt medically-proven changes in what we eat and how we exercise,” said NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.
“That’s why the NHS is going to accelerate its offer to help, including through wide uptake of our Diabetes Prevention programme which helps people shift the pounds, avoid type II diabetes, and also slash the risk of severe coronavirus.”