Free Personal Trainers For the Overweight, Courtesy Of NHS

Maria Jose Delgado helps lead a Zumba exercise class in a low-income neighborhood of Denver
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The NHS will now pay for people at risk of developing diabetes to have free “motivational coaches” to held them with their diet and encourage them to exercise.

The “one-to-one health trainers” will be offered as part of the Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP). The programme will last nine months, with participants receiving free advice, a “support” group and one-to-one sessions on weight loss, physical activity and diet.

Places will be offered to those identified through existing blood test results and NHS health checks as being at risk of Type 2 diabetes. Five million people across the UK have blood sugar levels indicating high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new report.

The NHS already spends £8.8 billion a year – or ten per cent of its budget – treating diabetes. It was unable to supply The Daily Telegraph with figures on the cost of the new courses, however.

“Health trainers help people to develop healthier behaviour and lifestyles in their own local communities. They offer practical support to change their behaviour to achieve their own choices and goals,” reads an advent for the job on an NHS website.

“The ability to motivate people is therefore a key part of the work of a health trainer” and recommends applicants have, “qualifications in areas such as nutrition, weight management, understanding and encouraging healthy lifestyles, instructing on exercise or using a gym.”

The advertisement adds: “Some posts may require the ability to speak in specific languages.”

The jobs will be in the NHS’s “band three” pay rate, meaning the health trainers will earn between 16 and 19 thousand pounds a year.

Those not relying on the state can expect to pay between £40 and £50 an hour for the privilege of using a personal trainer, although that can rise to as much as £150 an hour inside London.

In Bradford, one of the areas already piloting the new approach, more than 300 people have been signed up to a year-long “intensive lifestyle change” programme. GPs administering it have said people were offered nine free face-to-face sessions and telephone coaching in between.

Dr. Andrew Lee, NHS Yorkshire and Humber diabetes lead, said: “We have found that it’s the motivational aspect that makes interventions work. This is about offering sustained support over a period of time; motivational coaching, by people with a health trainer background.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), said: “We know how to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: lose weight, exercise and eat healthily, but it’s hard to do it alone.”

“PHE’s evidence review shows that supporting people along the way will help them protect their health and that’s what our prevention programme will do.”

It was also revealed this year that the NHS is dishing out millions of prescriptions a year for everyday household essentials such as toothpaste, suncream, handcream, indigestion pills and multi vitamins.