About diabetes

Many people have diabetes but don’t know it. In 2021, 34,150 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were known to be living with diabetes.

Type 1 and type 2 are the most common forms. The causes of both types are different, but both result in too much glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Type 1

Caused by the failure of the cells that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas to help control levels of sugar in the blood. It can occur at any age but usually appears before the age of 40. Type 1 is always treated with insulin.

Type 2

Caused by the body not producing enough insulin or not using what it produces effectively. It is the most common form and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes. It is treated with dietary changes, medication and sometimes insulin.

Diabetes can increase the risk of developing other conditions, such as heart disease. It can be managed effectively, and many people lead a healthy, active life.

Diabetes education programmes

We support a range of education programmes for people who are at risk, those who are newly diagnosed and those people who are living with diabetes to help manage their condition. If you are looking for more information on how you can look after your diabetes, visit the Diabetes UK website.

Carbohydrate awareness course (Introduction to Carbohydrate Counting)

The Carbohydrate Awareness Course is a 3 ½ hour group session for people with type 1 diabetes who have been recently diagnosed or have been living with the condition for longer but would like a refresher / taster session on carbohydrate counting.

The session is delivered by a Registered Diabetes Specialist Dietitian and is designed to make learning easy and interactive. The aim of the course is to introduce the concept of carbohydrate counting and to allow you to develop the knowledge and skills relating to diabetes self-management.

The course also covers a range of other topics including management of hypos as well as how exercise and alcohol affects your diabetes. 

Referral to the course is via the secondary care diabetes team (Diabetes Consultants, Diabetes Specialist Nurses, Diabetes Specialist Dietitians)

Carbohydrate Counting Course

The Carbohydrate Counting Course is for people with type 1 diabetes who would like more in-depth education about carbohydrate counting. The course consists of 2 group education sessions, which each last 3 hours and take place 2 weeks apart.

The course is delivered jointly by a Registered Diabetes Specialist Dietitian and Diabetes Specialist Nurse and is designed to make learning easy and interactive.

The aims of the course are for you to be able to:

  • Identify the foods and drinks that contain carbohydrate and therefore impact on blood glucose levels
  • Calculate the amount of carbohydrates in a range of food and drinks using a variety of methods
  • Understand how much insulin you will need to take for the amount of carbohydrate you have eaten
  • Understand how to recognise and treat hypoglycaemia
  • Understand the other factors that impact on your blood glucose levels, including alcohol, illness and exercise
  • Gain the knowledge and skills to learn how to best manage the condition

Referral onto the course is via the secondary care diabetes team (Diabetes Consultant, Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Diabetes Specialist Dietitian)

Diabetes and You

Have you recently been diagnosed or are you living with type 2 diabetes and would benefit from healthy lifestyle support to better manage your diabetes?

Diabetes and You is a free course for adults living with type 2 diabetes. The course is delivered with your local GP practice and led by trained diabetes educators who will make you feel very welcome.

The course will help you to learn about your diabetes and how to look after yourself. We will talk about diabetes and glucose, medication, food and healthy lifestyle choices and where to get help and support.

The courses are informal, friendly, and non-judgemental. You can share your experiences of diabetes and ask questions if you would like to. You will meet other people with diabetes with the option to bring a family member or friend for support.

For self-referral to a virtual Diabetes and You course please contact Healthy Cornwall: 01209 615600 healthy.cornwall@cornwall.gov.uk

For information about face-to-face courses delivered with your local GP practice please contact Hayley Burgoyne  or 07881 257452.

Diabetes UK Learning Zone

Learning Zone will give you videos, quizzes, interactive tools which are tailored just for you. From tasty food swaps to tips about managing day-to-day, the courses are all completely free.

Healthy Living

Healthy Living is a free online NHS service for people living with type 2 diabetes, which supplies knowledge and information that will support you to manage your condition. It includes:

  • information and treatment advice
  • advice on emotional and mental wellbeing
  • advice with adopting and maintaining healthy behaviours with food and exercise

The Healthy Living programme is currently being developed but you can still sign up, start the course, and find answers to your questions. Over time you will notice changes to the way pages look and get access to more information and features, as updates to the website are based on the feedback received.

NHS diabetes prevention programme

The Healthier You prevention programme is available to anyone who has been told by their GP or another healthcare professional that they are at risk of developing diabetes. The aim is to support people to make good lifestyle choices by giving them knowledge, ability, and confidence. The programme provides people with support meetings and information for a year. People may also benefit if they are living with another long-term condition. It is free to attend.

The programme includes information on:

  • diet
  • managing stress and your emotional wellbeing
  • physical activity
  • weight monitoring and why it is necessary

A healthcare professional from your GP practice will refer you to the national prevention programme.

Glucose monitors

Flash glucose monitors

A 6-month trial of the FreeStyle Libre is commissioned for patients (both adults and children) with type 1 diabetes attending specialist secondary care clinics for their diabetes and who have been assessed by their specialist to meet the criteria.

Flash glucose monitors are not currently commissioned for people with type 2 diabetes, unless the person uses insulin and is living with a learning disability, as recorded on their GP learning disability register. 

We are considering the case to extend access to a small, specified group of patients with type 2 diabetes who are treated with insulin. Once the decision has been made we will update the website.

Continuous glucose monitors

Continuous glucose monitors are commissioned where patients (both adults and children) with type 1 diabetes are attending specialist secondary care clinics. They will have been assessed by their specialist to meet the criteria and where the flash glucose monitor is not appropriate.

They are devices that allow for people with type 1 diabetes to see their (or their children’s) glucose values continuously, enabling immediate therapeutic adjustments based on real time glucose results. The device has a sensor which is fitted subcutaneously and measures interstitial glucose. The sensors are time limited (usually 5 to 7 days) and need to be replaced regularly. The real-time monitor shows trends in glucose levels on your LCD and shows the rate of glucose change using arrows. The device can be a user’s smartphone. They have predictive alarms for high or low glucose level and warn of impending hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia by sounding alarm.

Insulin pumps

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly pay for the cost of insulin pumps (sensor augmented pump therapy) for adults and children with type 1 diabetes, that fit the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) criteria.

Page last reviewed: 3 April, 2023

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