Mary Kelly Foy, MP for the City of Durham, has thrown her support behind a new campaign by North East NHS GPs Dr Paul Baker and Dr Amanda Porch to cut the cost of diabetes care for the NHS. The North East MP has a longstanding interest in public health as a former Cabinet Member of Health and Wellbeing at Gateshead Council and intends to raise the issue in parliament.

Type 2 diabetes is a major health crisis affecting 3.9 million people in the UK and is set to rise to 5.5 million by 2030. It also places a huge financial strain on the health service; the NHS spends at least £10 billion a year on diabetes care. Almost 80% of the NHS’s money spent on diabetes goes on treating complications after the damage is already done.

In response to the crisis, husband and wife medical duo Paul and Amanda have recently launched Diabetes Lifestyle Doctors, a social enterprise style initiative to help reduce and reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes for high-risk patients. As part of their work, they are calling for a step-change in the way diabetes is treated with a great focus on early intervention, which can help prevent future problems before they start.

Research has consistently shown that combined lifestyle interventions such as diet, physical activity and sustained weight loss can effectively reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 50%. Paul and Amanda’s work offers patients a 12-week programme of support based on diet, behaviour and lifestyle change to deliver long-term sustainable results.

Dr Paul said: “I truly think the NHS does an exceptional job in light of the scale of the problem we’re facing in this country. But, unfortunately, the majority of the resources are directed towards managing diabetes complications, of which there are many.”

“We know from research that more intensive lifestyle intervention, particularly earlier on, around the time of diagnosis, is a particularly powerful tool for reversing the root causes of type 2 diabetes. If everyone diagnosed had easy access to a diabetes lifestyle programme, this could be a game-changer for managing the condition and benefit our nation’s health.”

Paul and Amanda still practice as NHS GPs in County Durham and decided to reach out to their local MP, Mary Kelly Foy, to support their campaign for change. Mary currently serves on the Health and Care Bill Parliamentary Committee and several health-related All-Party Parliamentary Groups and has repeatedly called for greater Government action to tackle health inequalities in the North East.

Mary Kelly Foy commented, “Diabetes is a major health issue in my constituency and the North East as a whole. Our region suffers from serious health inequalities, and diabetes is an important aspect. According to Health inequalities expert Professor Marmot, someone who lives in a deprived area of the North East will likely have poorer health outcomes than someone living in a similarly deprived area in London.”

“Tackling this challenge isn’t easy and will require rebalancing the standard of care available in deprived areas like the North East. This will also involve changing the treatment paradigm for health conditions like type 2 diabetes, with a greater focus on preventative work and early intervention. As such, I will be looking to raise the importance of this approach within the NHS in Parliament at the earliest opportunity.”