Walking Away from Diabetes in Southwark

by Admin on February 16, 2018

In Southwark, it is estimated there are nearly 25,000 people for whom early intervention through health programmes could delay, or even prevent, the onset of diabetes. If diabetes were reduced by 25% among this population, Southwark would save around £1.2 million per year in health care costs.

The London Borough of Southwark has been been using its 'Walking Away from Diabetes' (WAFD) programme to reduce the risk of diabetes since 2012.  The educational scheme aims to increase physical activity amongst participants and enable lifestyle changes.

Emma-Louise Webb, Interventions and Referral Coordinator at Southwark, commented: “The link between Type 2 diabetes and obesity is widely reported. Obesity is prevalent in Southwark with 55.7% of adults (aged 16+) classified as overweight or obese (1). The Walking Away from Diabetes programme supports our residents to make suitable lifestyle changes and prevent Type 2 diabetes. The self-management approach of the programme and its numerous education modules gives the client greater responsibility for their health.”

Provided by Southwark Public Health and delivered via Southwark’s Health Improvement Hub, the programme includes a three-hour educational workshop, followed by a group evaluation session three months later and a telephone or group evaluation after six months.  Delivered by five facilitators from Southwark’s Health Improvement Team, clients are referred by GPs and health care professionals, via the Health Improvement Hub or directly following an NHS Health Check.

To secure its annual funding from Southwark CCG, Southwark collects a wide variety of data to prove the programme works.  Southwark has been using ReferAll to record its data for the Walking Away from Diabetes programme since November 2013.   It includes referral statistics (referral rate, attendance and retention), demographic (age, gender and ethnicity), biometric (HbA1c, BMI and waist measurements, updated on completion of the initial, three month and six month questionnaires), qualitative (opinions and case studies of lifestyle changes and social impact are updated through the three and six month questionnaires) and activity (attendance at individualised and monthly sessions). Since the WAFD programme’s inception in 2012 4573 clients have been referred. 

ReferAll offers a fast and efficient online referral pathway for Exercise on Referral schemes.  The software connects GP practices, commissioners, scheme administrators and instructors, both in the office and at the activity delivery sites, such as leisure centres and community halls, via tablets.  This ensures all data is collected centrally, enabling real-time reporting with ease on anything from uptake demographics to evaluation of improvement in activity levels.  By reducing staff administration and increasing time with patients, as well as automating appointment reminders, speeding up activity enrolment and providing motivational text messages, the ‘journey’ is also made easier for patients. 

Webb said: “It is essential to prove the impact the project would have on the eligible population. As we use ReferAll to digitally monitor the progress of our programmes, including WAFD, we are able to extract short statistical reports, such as scheme summaries, and export larger data sets with ease. Having this tool has meant we are able to provide evidence and support our funding applications with accurate data and impact reports.”

Data from the programme has already helped to identify which age groups intervention projects should be targeted at in the future: The largest group of clients referred were those aged 45 to 54 years (572), closely followed by those aged 55 to 64 (462).  In total 72% of the referrals made were 40 to 74 years old, the same percentage as in 2015-2016.

Webb concluded: “Within the current reporting year our shift of focus now explores the uptake of supporting healthy lifestyle intervention pathways offered to our clients within community settings e.g. Southwark Free Swim and Gym scheme. Using ReferAll, this data collation alongside case studies will help to investigate the social impact our project is having on the eligible population.”

By collating key data Southwark has been able to illustrate the success of its programme, highlighting an annual increase in referrals and workshop attendance since 2015.  In addition, alongside its own WAFD programme, the Borough has also been selected to operate the world’s first National Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP): an intensive lifestyle change intervention, which includes tailored support such as motivational interviewing, physical activity and weight management programmes and nutritional advice to delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.

(1) fingertips:


 Referenced in: Southwark Council. (2016). Southwark Healthy Weight Strategy 2016 – 2021. http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/documents/s63091/Appendix%201%20Healthy%20Weight%20Strategy%202016%20-%202021.pdf


Topics: News