Thousands of people across Cheshire and Wirral are said to be benefiting from a free service for those at risk of type 2 diabetes.
The Healthier You NHS diabetes prevention programme, currently available in Chester, Ellesmere Port and Frodsham, provides personalised advice on healthy eating, being more active and losing weight.
Pamela Hancock, 66, who has multiple long-term conditions, was solely using a wheelchair when she was referred on to the initiative by her GP six months ago.
Now she not only has more mobility but her outlook on life is much more positive too.
“I was really low when I was referred on to the programme and thought a future of wheelchairs and walking aids was inevitable,” she said.
“But, with the support of my family, I was prepared to do whatever it took to get my life back. I was determined not to develop type 2 diabetes on top of my other conditions.
“The Healthier You programme has given me hope. I’ve lost weight, improved my mobility and feel much better in myself. I feel like I’m fighting a winning battle again – not a losing one.”
It is estimated that more than 28,000 people across Cheshire and Wirral are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes which can lead to other serious conditions including stroke, heart disease, limb amputation and early death.
Nationally the NHS says diabetes and its complications cost more than £6bn every year to treat. One in six patients in hospital has diabetes.
Dr Catherine Wall, diabetes chief at the NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The Healthier You programme is having a really positive impact.
“It’s great for patients because it helps to prevent them developing type 2 diabetes and all the multiple serious complications. It’s also great for the health service as it helps to limit the number of people who require lifelong diabetes care.
“Lifestyle change is not easy. If it was we’d all do it. But Healthier You is supporting people to make those small changes which can make a big difference.”
GPs and other healthcare professionals are using this year’s Diabetes Prevention Week to urge more residents to find out if they are at risk and to take action now to improve their health.
People can find out if they are at risk of type 2 diabetes online at www.diabetes.org.uk/risk. If they are, their GP can refer them for further investigations such as blood tests.
The clinical commissioning group is responsible for ensuring the local health budget of £340m is well spent.