Diabetes costs the NHS more than £10 billion per year, roughly 10 percent of the entire budget. This is mainly due to costly complications such as amputations, blindness, kidney failure and strokes. However, evidence indicates that people who attend diabetes education courses (often known as ‘structured education courses’) better self-manage their condition. This leads to improved outcomes, delayed onset of complications and associated reduction in costs.


Diabetes education is recommended as an essential component of care for everyone living with diabetes by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the NHS’ guidance on clinical standards. Despite the NICE Guidelines and the strong evidence supporting patient education, attendance at such courses has remained low across south London and nationally, partly due to the lack of choice for patients in terms of timing or location of the education courses.

In October 2018, we launched the digital innovation; Diabetes Book & Learn, with the aim of improving attendance at patient education courses, through offering increased choice. It is a digitally-led service for people living in south London that provides a single point of access for patients and referrers to book diabetes education courses. These courses can be both face-to-face and digitally-enabled options. Southwark CCG (as the lead organisation) in collaboration with the Health Innovation Network (HIN) and the 12 south London CCGs commissioned Spirit Healthcare to develop Book & Learn. The HIN led the mobilisation of the service across 420 GP practices and 18 diabetes care providers.

In south London, there are currently 159,819 people identified as having either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. As the table below shows less than 10 percent of eligible people offered structured education courses in south London attended. This low attendance at courses not only impacts on health outcomes, it also results in poor value for money for the NHS. The aim of Diabetes Book & Learn is to increase attendance from this group at education courses across all 12 boroughs in south London by making it easy to find courses in patients’ local areas and at times that suit them. From launch up until the end of March 2019, 4,239 people were referred and 1,002 people booked on courses, of these, 131 were for digital courses – a newly available option since launch.


National and south London data (all south London/ London wide Clinical Commissioning Groups combined) on Structured Education: percentage offered by Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and percentage attended by Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes (Source: National Diabetes Audit 2017-18).

You can access the Diabetes Book & Learn service here: