The results of the latest National Diabetes Audit show Surrey Heartlands is performing well across most indicators at both regional (Kent, Surrey and Sussex) and national level.

The national audit, undertaken in partnership with Diabetes UK, measures the effectiveness of diabetes care against national clinical guidelines, with data fed back to local healthcare systems to help drive improvements in services and ultimately in patient outcomes – more information is available here.  

The audit gathers information such as how many people with diabetes are registered at a GP practice, whether each person registered has had the annual diabetes healthcare checks (also known as care processes) and whether each person having these checks also achieved the national targets for blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol control (all of which if not controlled can cause complications such as blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart disease and stroke).

In this latest audit, published at the end of last year, Surrey Heartlands shows positive year on year improvements for patients achieving the recommended treatment targets (for blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure), with all our local geographic areas in the top 25% nationally for having the annual healthcare checks.

Diabetes prevention

This is good news for local patients but managing the growing incidences of diabetes in England is set to be one of the major clinical challenges of the 21st century. Estimates suggest that the number of people with diabetes is expected to rise to 4.2 million people by 2030, affecting almost 9% of the population.

People finishing the world-leading NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme have lost the equivalent weight of 43 ambulances. 89,604 people have now finished the programme, losing a combined weight of 185,051kg.

The world-first service is so far unique in achieving a full national roll-out. With expert advice on dieting, exercise and healthy lifestyle, the programme will double in size to treat around 200,000 people every year as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2 and there were over a million obesity diagnoses in hospital patients last year. Complications from the disease can include blindness and foot amputations.

A lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight are all risk factors for developing the disease. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) is a joint commitment from NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, to deliver at scale evidence-based lifestyle changes for individuals identified as being at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Dr Stewart Tomlinson, Surrey Heartlands joint clinical lead for Diabetes and a GP in Dorking, said: “Across Surrey we know that more than half of adults are overweight and obese. Combined with the impact of a sedentary lifestyle this means that 10% of our citizens have either been diagnosed with or are at high risk of developing diabetes.

“It’s absolutely imperative that we support people to become fitter and healthier to avoid complications from diabetes that can significantly impact on quality of life in later years. The diabetes prevention programme can achieve exactly this aim and I’m delighted that almost 15,000 local people have already been referred.”

Dr Jenifer Smith, Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “It’s encouraging to see the early success of this programme. Going forward we need to do more to reach out to those who may feel the programme is not for them, including some ethnic minority groups, who we know experience large inequalities in health.”

The 9-12 month programme is designed to stop or delay the onset of the illness through a range of personalised lifestyle interventions ranging from advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating to bespoke physical activity programmes.