HAILSHAM: GP exercise referral programme going strong after 20 years

A GROUND-BREAKING scheme which began in Hailsham will soon celebrate 20 successful years of improving people’s health through exercise.

The GP exercise referral programme helps people with a range of conditions including diabetes, cardiac rehabilitation, obesity, immobility, high blood pressure and arthritis.

Individual health and exercise programmes are drawn up at Hailsham Leisure Centre for people referred by their local GP.

It was established in September 1991 by Wealden District Council at the leisure centre in collaboration with the University of Brighton and was the first centre in the UK to offer the programme.

Freedom Leisure took over the centre in 2002 and built on the Hailsham GP referral scheme by setting up similar programmes at all its major sites in Sussex and Kent which now manage over 1200 referrals per year.

Once referred, patients follow a personalised course of 20 sessions over a 10-week period tailored to their particular needs.

The programmes are closely monitored to ensure each individual achieves their specific goals.

Jeff Hart, managing director of Freedom Leisure, said, “We are immensely proud of our GP referral programme.

“Our fitness instructors are committed to helping patients improve their quality of life and in the last 20 years we’ve had thousands of success stories.

“We find that those people referred get on board with the idea quickly and enjoy seeing the progress they make over the 10-week period.”

While most GP referral schemes are funded by their local PCT, Freedom Leisure fully funds the scheme at its locations.