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NIHR-funded online diabetes tool rolled out across NHS

Published: 28 May 2019

An NIHR-funded online tool to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition is to be made available on the NHS.

The online portal - Diabetes UK - is the first ever to be shown to help people with type 2 diabetes reduce blood glucose levels. The tool gives patients with type 2 diabetes access to expert advice and support without the need for a face-to-face appointment.

Eleven NHS sites will pilot the new service thanks to funding from the NHS Long Term Plan, with HeLP-Diabetes being made nationally available in early 2020.

NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research funded the development and testing of the self-management tool, with results showing significant improvements in blood sugar levels among people using HeLP-Diabetes. The research also showed significant improvements in people’s physical wellbeing, and benefits to mental health in people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The pilot of the new tool will test different resources including educational courses to encourage lifestyle changes, information about diet, exercise and alcohol consumption, and online chat to help people support each other in managing their diabetes.

Alan, 71, from Sunderland, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2002.

He said: “When I was diagnosed it was a shock to the system and I didn’t know anything about type 2 diabetes. I wish that a website such as HeLP would have been available for me back then. It’s a really useful tool that I would urge all GPs to recommend to people with the condition.”

“My first piece of advice to anyone diagnosed with any form of diabetes is to learn as much as possible about it. HeLP is a great way to do that – the more you know, the better you can manage your condition.”

There are currently more than 2.8 million people living with type 2 diabetes in England and a further 750,000 people are believed to be undiagnosed. Around 10% of health expenditure in England - £10 billion every year - is associated with diabetes, largely due to preventable complications of the disease such as amputations.

Professor Elaine Hay, Director of NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research, said: "This research exemplifies NIHR's work to support science that involves patients and produces results and innovations that benefit them within the NHS."

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity for NHS England said: “Living with diabetes is a daily challenge for millions, as well as a growing issue for our NHS, which is why the Long Term Plan for the health service sets out ambitious, innovative and evidence-backed measures to prevent and manage the condition. Access to trusted information and support is key to helping people manage their diabetes and this online tool helps deliver this as part of our Long Term Plan to tackle major conditions and diseases.”

Read more about the NHS online support for Type 2 diabetes on the NHS England website

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