Devon launches pioneering prevention programme to address rising diabetes rates


Healthier Devon, an innovative new support programme designed to prevent people developing Type 2 diabetes, was launched in Devon last week to coincide with National Diabetes Week (11-17 June).

In Devon alone, there are around 79,000 people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – and this number is increasing nationally by about 3% per year. However, many of the risk factors associated with developing Type 2 diabetes are preventable through lifestyle changes. Healthier Devon will work with around 3,500 people at the highest risk of developing the condition. Once referred by their GP, these people will receive sustained help over a two-year period to make positive changes to their lifestyle – to include nutrition, physical exercise and mental wellbeing – via a combination of one-to-one and group sessions.

Healthier Devon has been developed and commissioned by Devon County Council and Bridges Fund Management (through its Social Impact Bond Fund), with support from the Big Lottery Fund using National Lottery funding.  Exeter-based charity Westbank Community Health and Care (Westbank) has been selected to deliver the programme, which will work on a payment-by-results basis – so the council will only make payments if individuals enrolled on the programme show a sustained drop in their weight, their waist circumference and their HbA1c (blood sugars) reading. Devon is the first local authority in the UK to adopt this pioneering approach to diabetes prevention.

Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:  “This programme, which is the first of its type in the UK offering two years of sustained support, has the potential to make a significant impact on the health of our local population.  Diabetes is one of the biggest preventable diseases, both nationally and in Devon.  By tackling it early enough, the programme not only enables people to turn their health outcomes around in the short term, but also provides the support to help people sustain long-term changes to their lifestyle, and their health.”

Jaine Keable, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Westbank, said:
“Healthier Devon is a great outcome from our piloted work through the BIG Lottery funding, and clinical trials supporting those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Our programme support will provide participants with the knowledge, ability and confidence to make changes to their lifestyle so that they get the best chance to reduce their risk of the condition.”

Mila Lukic, partner at Bridges, said: “By launching this ground-breaking new programme, Devon is showing a real commitment to innovative and impact-driven commissioning. When organisations like Westbank are rewarded on the basis of outcomes they have much more flexibility to tailor their programmes to meet specific local needs. We think this will make it easier for Westbank to help people in Devon avoid developing diabetes – which over time will also reduce the demand on local primary and secondary care services.”

Patients who are eligible to join Healthier Devon will be referred for an appointment by their GP surgery through the Devon Referral Support Service.