Concern as exercise scheme is axed

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FUNDING has been axed for a South Yorkshire exercise scheme used by more than 6,000 people with serious illnesses.

The exercise referral initiative was run by NHS Barnsley and helped patients with, among other things, diabetes and heart problems. People were sent on the 10-week course by their GPs, but no more have been referred since the start of this year because they would not have time to complete the sessions before funding runs out in March.

Dan Jarvis and Michael Dugher, Labour MPs for Barnsley Central and Barnsley East respectively, have criticised the decision to scrap the scheme.

Mr Jarvis said: “I’m a big believer in ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ and exercise is a really good way of improving health.

“It seems incredibly short-sighted to withdraw support because our society gets real benefit from it and, in the long term, it saves money – fit and healthy people use hospitals less.”

The exercise referral scheme was run at Barnsley Metrodome, Hoyland, Royston and Dearnside leisure centres and the Dorothy Hyman Stadium, Cudworth, offering specialist support from clinically-trained staff.

An NHS Barnsley spokesman said: “This scheme was commissioned in 2011 as just one of a range of other services that work with people to help manage their weight and health conditions.

“This particular service was only contracted for 18 months.”