Objective: To show that an advanced diabetes education programme delivers sustained benefits to people with diabetes prescribed insulin and healthcare providers over and above those provided by basic diabetes education. Methods: An historical cohort study of 68 people with Type 1 and 51 people with Type 2 diabetes on insulin who attended the 4-day Newcastle Empowerment programme in 2001 and 2002 compared with 71 people with Type 1 and 312 people with Type 2 diabetes who attended only the basic 4-day insulin education programme over the same period, followed until 2007. Primary outcome was all hospital admissions and emergency visits; secondary outcomes were the composite of first cardiac event or death and readmission for diabetes complications. Cox-proportional hazards regression was used to analyse Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes separately. Results: The empowerment programme significantly delayed time to first hospital admission/visit for patients with Type 2 diabetes; the hazard ratio (HR) of 0.41 (P = 0.01) translates into a delay of almost 3 years; this was partly driven by a significant reduction in cardiovascular events and mortality (HR = 0.24, P = 0.01). These effects were not seen for people with Type 1 diabetes. Conclusions: A one-time, advanced diabetes education programme teaching intensive insulin self-management with an empowerment style can lead to sustained improvement in patient outcomes and reduce use of hospital services for people with Type 2 diabetes on insulin.