A new intervention programme has been launched for general practice in a bid to improve diabetes care and cut escalating treatment costs.
A report this month from Diabetes UK argued that the NHS - which spends a staggering £10 billion a year on diabetes care - is failing to learn from clear evidence that interventions can save money as well as give patients longer and healthier lives.
Following a successful pilot project, the innovative programme is currently undergoing full clinical trials and is being offered to GPs through a unique joint venture between Diabetes and You and general practice demand management specialists Productive Primary Care.
Diabetes and You Director Kate Walker said: "Most interventions that are out there are usually just 10 weeks, but we know that people take time to change their behaviours. This is about sustainability.
"The Steps to Your Healthy Future is a full year programme that targets the hardest 20 per cent of patients to reach and manage.
"The aim is to prevent the development of complications through engraining simple changes in day-to-day living. It's about helping and empowering people to make the right choices and better manage their condition.
"Results have been really good and the programme looks to significantly reduce the long-term costs to the NHS by reducing expensive hospital visits and long term treatments."
Diabetes is now the biggest single cause of amputation, stroke, blindness and kidney failure. Such complications - although largely preventable with health checks and better education - account for about 80 per cent of NHS spending on diabetes.
Kate added: "Between 2006 and 2011 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in England increased by 25% to 2.5 million. Almost all - 90% - have type 2 diabetes and spending on the condition accounts for around 10% of the NHS budget.
"The challenge of diabetes has been recognised since 2001, when the National Service Framework for Diabetes set out a vision for services in England to be delivered by 2013. We are now at 2014 and this vision is far from being achieved."
Productive Primary Care is a hub for innovation in general practice and has developed a range of pioneering tools for surgeries to improve demand management. These include the Doctor First phone consultation system which has delivered major reductions in missed appointments, patient complaints and unnecessary use of over-stretched A&E departments.
Doctor First is being used in 70 practices covering around 730,000 patients and Productive Primary Care Clinical Director, GP Dr Steve Clay, said: "This is an exciting partnership and builds on the work we are already doing to promote innovation and excellence in general practice to improve patient care.
"By reducing the huge costs involved in diabetes care - in terms of time and treatment - you can greatly improve the care given and quality of life for patients as well as freeing GPs up to spend more time and resources on other practice patients."