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UK's first exercise referral accreditation scheme launched in Suffolk

Bury St. Edmunds Leisure Centre in Suffolk has become the first facility in the UK to be awarded a new quality standard for exercise referral schemes.

The accreditation is the first of its kind and has been designed to encourage more GPs and health professionals to refer their patients to exercise programmes.

The initiative – Suffolk Exercise on Referral Quality Standard – was developed by Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) public health team in partnership with leisure operators and quality management expert Right Directions; with input from GPs and health professionals.

Gill Twell, head of development at Right Directions, said: “The new module will allow facilities running referral schemes to challenge and check the suitability of the programmes they are running, analyse how they are using funding and demonstrate clear patient outputs.

"This ‘rubber stamp’ should also give operators the confidence to apply for further funding.

"It also means surgeries no longer need to find solutions to embed exercise themselves, they can simply refer patients to these facilities, certain they will receive a high standard of care.”

The first facility to receive the accreditation is operated on behalf of the local council by Abbeycroft Leisure.

“It’s exciting for our team at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre to be the first to achieve this," said Warren Smyth, CEO of Abbeycroft Leisure

"The standard is extremely important to ensure GP’s, physiotherapists and other medical practitioners can feel confident they are referring patients into a scheme that is safe and effective."

According to councillor James Reeder, SCC cabinet member for health, the accreditation is part of the local authority's strategy of becoming the "most active county in England".

“We want to highlight and showcase best practice across the county so GP’s and healthcare professionals feel confident to refer patients to exercise programmes, while also raising the profile of the excellent schemes available within the county," Reeder said.

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