THOUSANDS more people will be offered a soup-and-shake diet weight-loss plan for free on the NHS to tackle the rise of type 2 diabetes.

Some 5,000 patients will get access to the diet programme after NHS England said results from a trial showed almost half of people who undertook the plan saw their type 2 diabetes go into remission after a year.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are linked and both increase the risk of complications from Covid-19.

Peter Pinfield, chairman of Healthwatch Worcestershire, said he thought it was a good idea and would be a good use of money if it helped people lose weight and prevent long-term illnesses.

“You always have to be careful how you spend public money but it is similar to the types of things that help people stop smoking," he said.

“Helping people lose weight, if you can do that and you can help people prevent them from getting long-term really critical conditions, then I think we should do it.

“I’m sure it won’t work for everybody because diet and losing weight is notoriously difficult but for some people, type 2 diabetics, if it does start to work and people start producing their own insulin then I think it will be a good use of money and a good use of NHS services.

“Healthwatch and myself personally would welcome any initiative like this and encourage any type 2 diabetics in Worcestershire to give it a go.”

Diabetes is estimated to cost the NHS £10 billion a year, while almost one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs is for diabetes treatment.

A third of people who died in hospital with the virus had diabetes, according to Public Health England data.

People living with type 2 diabetes who have been diagnosed with the condition in the last six years will be considered for the scheme.

After a few months on the plan, when some weight loss has been achieved, solid foods would be reintroduced with support to help the person maintain a nutritious diet and regular exercise.