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

The carbohydrate awareness course is for people with type 1 diabetes. It is a structured education programme, which involves attending 2 group education sessions every 2 weeks. The sessions last 3 hours.

The aims of the course are to:

  • supply up-to-date information about type 1 diabetes to better learn how to manage the condition
  • find which foods contain carbohydrate
  • calculate the amount of carbohydrate these foods have
  • understand how much insulin you will need to take for the amount of carbohydrate you have eaten

Referral onto the course is via the secondary care diabetes team.

Diabetes and You

A free online course for people newly diagnosed 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 is delivered over 3 x 90-minute sessions (1 session each week) via Microsoft Teams.

These sessions can help you to:

  • understand more about type 2 diabetes
  • learn about things you can do to look after yourself and stay healthy
  • meet other people like you, recently diagnosed with diabetes

Sessions are informal, friendly, and non-judgemental. You can share your experiences and ask questions if you would like to. You will meet other people with diabetes, and you are welcome to bring your partner, friend, or family member with you for support. Sessions are for up to 10 people.

You can also register your interest through Healthy Cornwall.

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.

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: 12 July, 2022

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