How can we start to tackle the diabetes crisis?

In support of Diabetes Awareness Week, we look at how structured diabetes education can help and what we should look for in a programme.

By on June 16, 2021

More than 4.7 million people in the UK have diabetes. This number is growing all the time and by 2030, there will be 5.5 million people with diabetes in the UK. Around 90% of these will have Type 2 diabetes [1].  Diabetes accounts for 10% of the total NHS expenditure in England and Wales with around 80% of this spend on complications[2].

In support of Diabetes Awareness Week, we look at how structured diabetes education can help and what we should look for in a programme.

Structured diabetes education helps people living with Type 2 diabetes learn the skills and knowledge to better manage their condition and take control of their diabetes. As such, it is key to successful day-to-day diabetes management and in reducing the risk of costly complications.[3]

Chris Askew, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “…preventing Type 2 diabetes must be a public health priority” “…with the right support, up to half of Type 2 diabetes cases − and the accompanying risk of life threatening complications − can be delayed or prevented.”[4]

With Integrated Care Systems taking shape, we know it is vital to support the NHS at scale across healthcare systems in educating patients, improving health outcomes, and maximising clinical resources. So, when it comes to commissioning a structured diabetes education programme, what is important?

Monitoring and support

Having access to the right data is critical. Without data how do you know how things have improved? Clinical and quality of life data should be collected at baseline for each participant (on referral) and at agreed intervals following completion of the programme. Consideration should be given to the level of data provided at GP practice level, including number of referrals, people attending the course, DNAs, and those declining education to help you measure the success of the programme across the system.

Communicating outcomes

All referrers should routinely be informed of patient attendance after the programme, detailing the date of attendance and, ideally, a copy of any agreed goals or plans. This will help ensure the patient can get the necessary support to make long-term change.

Tackling inequalities

Structured diabetes education should meet the needs of all people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. If a provider understands a participant’s needs, they should find a way to ensure they receive their education. This could mean that courses are offered in other languages and any learning materials are supplied in large format print or braille if needed.

Quality assurance

In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) 2016 quality statement[5] recommend that people with Type 2 diabetes should receive structured diabetes education at the time of diagnosis. This programme must be evidence-based with specific learning objectives and have a structured curriculum delivered by trained educators.

Introducing EMPOWER T2n

EMPOWER T2n, developed and delivered by Spirit Health, is a national, award-winning structured diabetes education programme. EMPOWER T2n is designed to help people living with Type 2 diabetes understand what it is, the effect it has on their body and how to make small, achievable changes to the food they eat and their everyday life.

The programme content is delivered consistently in face-to-face and virtual settings (essential during the COVID pandemic); and, most recently, in a digital self-learning format where people are able to work through the course at their own pace by reading course material, watching video content, and playing games as well as taking quizzes to reinforce their learning.

We deliver EMPOWER T2n in a range of languages, including Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu, to meet the needs of the local population, and we arrange translators when required in other languages. In addition, we ensure that patients and service users who have information or communication needs relating to a disability, impairment or sensory loss receive accessible information and communication support appropriate to their needs.

To find out more about EMPOWER T2n, please contact us at or call us on 0116 286 5000.







Want to find out more about our award-winning products and services?

Get in touch to see how the Spirit family of companies can help you.