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Help for cancer patients launches

A service is being extended across Mid and East Cheshire to help people diagnosed with certain cancers to get physically and mentally fit before their treatment to reduce complications and enhance recovery.

The Prehab4Cancer and recovery programme supports people in building up their physical health and mental wellbeing ahead of surgery or cancer therapies, which can take their toll on patients.

If patients improve these aspects of their lives, they can respond better to treatment and it also can enhance their quality of life afterwards, including by helping with lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise.

The scheme is operated in leisure centres so can be accessed by cancer patients close to where they live or be virtual from the patient’s home. It offers free exercise, nutrition and wellbeing classes designed by a team of NHS professionals and exercise experts, based on the latest research.

The benefits of prehabilitation can be seen in as little as two weeks and empowers people with cancer to enhance their physical and mental health and wellbeing and so supporting them to live life as fully as they can. Exercises are done to the patient’s level of ability, and they have two or three sessions before cancer treatment.

The service is commissioned by NHS Cheshire CCG and provided by GM Active in partnership with Everybody Sport & Recreation and Brio Leisure. It has been funded for an initial 12 months by Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance (CMCA) with the hope it can continue afterwards.

Eligible patients with certain cancers will be referred onto the scheme by health professionals at East Cheshire NHS Trust and Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and they must live in East or Mid Cheshire.

Claire Hopley, CMCA senior programme manager, said: “We are delighted this service is launching in Mid and East Cheshire as prehabilitation can make a real difference to people living with cancer.  

“Through supporting people to prepare themselves both physically and mentally for their cancer treatments, as well as improving their outcomes following treatment, we have an opportunity to make positive change, not only for individuals who can work with these lifestyle changes longer term but also to support the wider healthcare system.

“Prehab also provides an important opportunity for people living with cancer to implement lifestyle interventions such as physical activity, smoking cessation, nutritional and wellbeing support to reduce risk factors to health.”

Dr Andrew Wilson, Sandbach GP and clinical chair of the CCG, said: “There’s a wealth of evidence that people who get themselves into the best possible shape for surgery don’t only recover more quickly but also go on to lead healthier lives and stay more active.”

Kate Skinner, lead cancer nurse at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be part of the extended prehabilitation programme, which will allow us to meet the needs of cancer patients closer to home and prepare them for treatment.

“The service will help to empower patients to get the best possible outcomes, as well as improve their long-term health.”

Joanne Humphreys, lead cancer nurse at East Cheshire NHS Trust, said: We have seen from pilots in Greater Manchester that help to get fit prior to treatment for cancer has significant benefits for patients. We are really pleased to be able to offer this service to East Cheshire patients.”

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