Abbeycroft Leisure has been awarded two more county-wide exercise referral quality standards, for their work with patients with long term conditions referred to them by local GPs and health professionals.
The quality standard was presented recently for work at their Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury and Hadleigh Pool and Leisure in Hadleigh.
The quality standard, developed by Suffolk County Council Public Health, and county wide partners, for exercise referral schemes (ERS), is the first of its kind in the UK.
Exercise referral schemes enable GPs and health professionals to refer patients with long-term health conditions to a fitness programme based within the community, to increase their physical activity levels as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Research by Suffolk County Council’s Public Health team found that current exercise referral schemes were not widely used in Suffolk by referrers. Reasons given for this were a lack of awareness among GPs of referral schemes, variations in referral protocols and a general lack of understanding whether schemes are operating in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
The new quality standard for exercise referral in Suffolk has been developed with input from operators, GPs and health professionals, alongside QUEST, the Sport England recommended continuous improvement tool for leisure facilities, to address these issues.
Abbeycroft Leisure’s chief executive, Warren Smyth, said:
“Naturally, we are delighted that we’ve achieved yet another quality standard for our Exercise on Referral scheme, this time at our centres in Sudbury and Hadleigh, which brings our total so far to four centres having the accreditation. The teams have again worked incredibly hard to develop the scheme with local clinicians and this is a welcome recognition for their efforts.
“We’re passionate about making physical activity accessible and achievable for the whole community, and this standard is extremely important to ensure that GPs, physiotherapists and other medical practitioners can feel confident that they are referring patients into a scheme that is safe and effective."
Cllr James Reeder, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, said:
“This scheme is important in supporting people to be active and another step on our journey to become the most active county in England. We know that physical activity has significant benefits for health, both physical and mental, and can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
“We want to highlight and showcase best practice across the county so GP’s and healthcare professionals feel confident to refer patients in to exercise programmes, whilst also raising the profile of the excellent schemes that are available within the county.’
Cllr Derek Davis, cabinet member for communities at Babergh District Council, said:
“I’m delighted that our leisure centres in Hadleigh and Sudbury have been recognised with Suffolk’s 'exercise on referral’ quality standard accreditation. Making sure we have strong and healthy communities is very important to us at Babergh, being the top priority in our Joint Leisure, Sport and Physical Activity Strategy.
“This work not only helps to support individuals in our community with their health and wellbeing, but promotes healthier lifestyles in the district too.”
To be accredited with the new standard, an ERS will be recognised via an independent quality assessment against a set of criteria developed by the Suffolk Exercise Referral Quality Standard and schemes will be monitored on a regular basis as part of this process. Schemes can apply for accreditation via the QUEST Accreditation scheme at https://questnbs.org/.