The first few months of a health programme has revealed the extent of Bradford’s diabetes timebomb.

Targeted check-ups of about 1,000 people believed to be most at risk found more than 400 of them already had the killer disease but did not know it.

The results were revealed at a meeting of the Bradford and Airedale Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday, where health bosses pledged to do more to tackle the problem and its causes.

Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) began a new programme called Bradford’s Beating Diabetes in November last year. One of its aims was to identify all diabetics who had not yet been diagnosed.

About 2,300 people were identified who were believed to be at greatest risk of developing type two diabetes, based on recent blood samples.

They were written to by their GPs and asked to attend a check-up. Of these, about 1,000 agreed, and 400 were found to have diabetes without their knowledge.

Vicki Wallace, head of service improvement for the CCG, said local GPs had really got behind the project, which was uncovering “big numbers” of undiagnosed diabetics.

She said: “All 27 GP practices in the city are engaged with this, and this is something we are very proud of.”

The next stage of the programme will identify around 37,500 patients who are also believed to have a higher risk of developing the condition, based on factors such as age, weight or ethnicity.

But health bosses must now work out how to pay for the treatment of all the diabetics who would have otherwise fallen under the radar.

Helen Hirst, chief officer of the CCG, said they had set aside some extra money, and Council leader Councillor David Green said they could lobby for more Government cash to tackle the problem.

Councillor Ralph Berry, executive member for children’s services, stressed the importance of tackling the issue head-on.

He said: “If we don’t get this right, we will be constantly chasing the ambulances, we will be picking up the pieces and we will be burying people.”

The meeting also heard of the importance of not stigmatising diabetes as a condition caused by lifestyle choices, particularly as type one diabetes was not linked to factors such as obesity.