Diabetes consultant is stepping down from top NHS job

By Editor
21st September 2023
Good practice, The Big Interview

Professor Jonathan Valabhji OBE is stepping down from his role as the National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England after more than a decade in the post.

Starting in the role in 2013, the highly respected consultant diabetologist has transformed diabetes care by developing new workstreams from scratch and rolling out major projects, such as the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme and Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission Programme.

According to Professor Valabhji, England is the first country in the world to deliver a diabetes prevention programme with full geographical coverage, which has now been shown to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes amongst both participants and at English population level.

Looking back at his time in the role, he said: “The thing that I am most proud of is the first major piece of work that we landed which was the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

“We intended to achieve a position where England became the first country to implement at scale a national evidence-based type 2 diabetes prevention programme. We are now nine years down the road and have achieved that, having rolled the programme out in three waves between 2016 and 2018.”

He added: “The programme focusses on individuals with prediabetes, so already at a high risk. We have had over 1.3 million people now referred into the programme. I hope it has a lasting effect and legacy from a public health perspective.”

During his impressive 10-year stint as the National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England, Professor Valabhji has also been involved in projects that have improved access to digital self-management tools, to multidisciplinary foot care, to inpatient diabetes specialist advice, to support for type 1 diabetes and disordered eating, to better support for children and young people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, to better support for routine care delivery, and to other weight management interventions for broader populations living with overweight and obesity.

Most recently he has led work dedicated to improving care for people with multiple long-term conditions (MLTC).

In 2019, the NHS published a Long-Term Plan which included a section on obesity, thanks to Professor Valabhji and his team, which led onto the establishment of the NHS England Obesity team and work streams, including the new National Obesity Audit.

Professor Valabhji is stepping down from the role at the end of September 2023 to pursue a career in academia and research at Imperial College in London as Professor of Medicine, where he will be based on the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital Campus.

He noted: “It’s been the most amazing 10 years from many respects. There have been huge challenges as well, but it has been an amazing experience over a decade.”

To watch the full interview with Professor Valabhji, click here.

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