A new cancer prehabilitation programme is achieving groundbreaking results by bringing the health and fitness and activity sectors together with medics.
Prehab4Cancer (P4C), a partnership between GM Cancer Alliance and Greater Manchester's GM Active, has released its first set of results showing a raft of improvements for both patients and the NHS.
By following a specially-designed rehab course over 12 weeks patients spent 36 hours less in hospital and experienced fewer post-operative complications, while critical care time was cut by 10 hours.
The pilot scheme has helped 2,500 patients so far in the Greater Manchester area and is now supporting a further 400 patients.
The wider impact of the programme on health services has been significant. Around 550 ward-bed days and 146 critical care bed-days were released over the 12 week period. This not only covered the costs involved in setting up and delivering the P4C programme for one year, but it also enabled other patients to access surgery and hospital beds that would not have otherwise been available.
“Prehab4Cancer demonstrates just what can be achieved with structured and imaginative co-design and collaborative working between clinical and physical activity providers,” Andy King, chair of GM Active, told HCM. “It puts our gyms and leisure facilities on the frontline of cancer care and the preventative health agenda, and speaks directly to our stated aim of getting more people physically active so they can live healthy, happy and long lives.”
The P4C team comprises ten exercise and fitness specialists who support patients through the three-month programme.
In terms of how patients exercise – particularly in light of COVID-19 restrictions – the scheme offers both remote and on-location options. Live and in-person sessions are run at leisure centres or patients can exercise remotely using a selection of video calls, YouTube classes and live exercises sessions.
“That’s all about optimising the patient’s cardiovascular fitness and working on their muscular strength,” said Kirsty Rowlinson-Groves, P4C manager. “We inspire them to push themselves physically to get in the best condition, so their health and wellbeing is optimised ready for treatment.”
Patients’ progress was assessed using four benchmarks: the commonly-used six-minute walk test; the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS); the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ); and the EQ5D, a tool measuring the quality of life.