NHS England has announced the launch of the second wave of the Diabetes Prevention Programme, with 13 new areas now ready to offer the scheme to patients identified at risk of developing the condition.

The initiative, run collaboratively by NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, was launched last year with the first wave including 27 areas covering 26 million people. According to the latest data, just under 50,000 people were referred in Wave 1 and more than 18,000 on the programme at the end of April, exceeding the latest targets.

Wave 2 areas will cover another 25 percent of the population, with an estimated 130,000 referrals and up to 50,000 additional places made available thanks to the expansion. Funding has also been agreed for another 12 months in the 27 sites currently up and running.

Those put into the programme will get tailored, personalised help to reduce their risk of developing diabetes type II, including education on healthy eating and lifestyle, weight-loss assistance, and bespoke physical exercise programmes. Over nine months patients will be offered at least 13 education and exercise sessions of one to two hours per session, at least 16 hours face to face or 1-to-1 in total.

Around 2.6 million people in England have with type II diabetes and there are around 200,000 new diagnoses every year, despite the condition being largely preventable through lifestyle changes.

Aside from the health benefit, it is hoped the scheme could save the NHS millions of pounds, given that diabetes currently costs the NHS £1.5 million an hour, and 80 percent of this is for treating largely preventable complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke.