What is GP exercise referral?
Exercise referral is a
partly funded by the Department for Health. The funding is provided
to all of the different Counties across the UK, whereby the CCG
responsible for that area will distribute the money to the Centres
who are operating the scheme.
Department for Health (Government)
CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group)
Facility running the scheme (usually a leisure centre)
because some health conditions are not covered by the funding, and
some centres or CCG's have different funding policies depending on
which health condition you have. If your health condition is not
covered by the funding, you may still be offered to attend the
scheme, but you will be charged a small fee for your attendance.
This fee varies across the whole of the UK as it is set by the
Centre, and can be anything from £1 right up to £6 per session.
Generally, if your condition is funded, your attendance will be
Because the Leisure Centres who provide the scheme are all different
companies across the UK, the name of the scheme will also be
different. Below are some examples of scheme names correct at time
of print, thankfully most centres just use "exercise referral":
PARIS (physical activity referral in Stockport)
Exercise Referral (East Riding of Yorkshire)
Exercise Referral (Everyone Active, 190 centres nationwide)
Fresh Start (Mytime Active Leisure Centres)
Healthwise Physical Activity Referral (Better Leisure Centres)
Exercise on Referral (Active Northumberland)
Who can go on the scheme?
If you have a health condition and your physical activity levels are
low, your GP can refer you to the "Exercise Referral Scheme" (quite
often these are run by your local leisure centre, but not always).
It may not be your GP that refers you either, it could be your
physiotherapist, a hospital or clinic consultant or nurse. Whoever
refers you to the scheme, they believe that your health will benefit
from increased physical activity. If you do not have a health
condition, you cannot be referred. Here are the current health
conditions that are eligible for the scheme:
Cerebrovascular Disease (Stroke/TIA)
Diabetes (type 1 and 2)
Mild to moderate mental health disorder
Greater than 10% CVD risk
BMI over 30
have been referred, what next?
Once you have been referred, you will be invited for an initial
assessment with a physical activity specialist, usually within the
Leisure Centre. They will talk to you about your health, your
conditions and your physical activity levels. You will both discuss
how the scheme can help you and they will advise you on what to
expect. Usually they will take your blood pressure and a few other
measurements such as height and weight for example. You will be booked in for your first exercise session.
Your first session
Your first session will usually be a one-to-one with the specialist.
This will last for about an hour within the gym, while they write
you an exercise programme and teach you how to use the equipment.
You will be given a set number of sessions, sometimes over a set
number of weeks. You will be expected to attend these sessions
following the programme that the specialist wrote for you at the
first session. While you
are attending, the specialist will be in the gym, available to help
you and the other people on the scheme.
Different schemes around the UK have different processes and
procedures. Some last for 6 sessions, but most are for 10-12 sessions.
Some centres offer alternatives to gym exercise, such as racquet
sports, golf, swimming and Classes specifically written for people
with health conditions.
of your sessions
Most centres will give you a review once you have completed all of
your sessions. This will be to evaluate the outcome of your
attendance, how has it made you feel, do you feel better? that sort
of thing. Sadly, this review is simply so that they can provide
statistics back to the CCG to secure their funding, and to try to
persuade you to take out membership.
Not likely. If you do not take out membership once you have finished
the scheme, you will usually not here from the Centre again. They
are after all, a business, and giving sessions for free is not
profitable. It is therefore really important that you get as much
out of it as you can, talk to as many people as you can and find out
about local groups, classes and meet-ups. Take responsibility for
your own health, learn from the specialists, and make sure you stay
physically active. Find a local walking group. Become a volunteer.
Join a group. Be active. Socialise. Do not sit at home alone every
day; if you do, then call me and let's chat.