DOCTORS in the Taunton area are sending out letters to patients deemed at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Partner organisation Living Well Taking Control is working with local GP practices to offer people at risk face-to-face help and support to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.

They will be encouraged to make healthier lifestyle choices and to improve their health.

The scheme is part of NHS England's programme, Healthier You, which has previously been launched in Bridgwater and Mendip and follows the successful recruitment to a digital prevention programme with over 900 patients across Somerset.

More than 800 people in Bridgwater and Mendip have been identified as candidates for the programme and have received invitations to join the project, which is focussed on encouraging people to lose weight, increase physical activity and improve their diet.

Dr Henk Bruggers, GP and clinical lead for the programme in the county, said: "Tackling Type 2 diabetes is a big priority area for Somerset.

"Like most areas of the country we are seeing an increase in new diagnoses driven by a number of lifestyle factors and we need to do all we can to reverse this trend.

"We’re proud to be rolling out this important public health programme and we look forward to working with Living Well Taking Control to help at risk people make healthier choices about how they exercise and what they eat."

Rachael Rowe, head of long term conditions at NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Obesity and lifestyle-related issues have taken their toll on people’s health.

"Also, the complications of diabetes cost society and the NHS £8.8 billion a year.

"This programme will give advice and practical help to a group of people who can drastically reduce their risk of developing the condition and associated complications, including amputation and blindness."

Wendy Doig, of Living Well Taking Control said: "We are delighted to have been chosen to provide lifestyle interventions for the people of Somerset with the aim of helping at risk people make healthier choices about how they exercise, what they eat and how to manage their stress."

Leaflets will be available in GP practices in Taunton and letters will be sent by GPs to patients deemed to be at risk to invite them onto the programme, including people who are over 18, not pregnant, not diagnosed with diabetes and with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia.

In Somerset, there are around 6,700 people identified as at risk of developing diabetes.