Cancer patients in Yorkshire benefit from first-of-its-kind exercise referral service

Posted on: Friday 20 Sep 2019

Cancer patients in Yorkshire have become the first in the UK to benefit from personalised exercise programmes offered at the point of diagnosis through to recovery.

The new ‘Active Against Cancer’ service, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and provided by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, is the first of its kind to be offered to all cancer patients as part of their treatment plan.

Being physically active after a cancer diagnosis is linked to better cancer outcomes for several cancers. It can help improve post-operative outcomes and prevent cancer recurrence.

A report published in 2015 by the Independent Cancer Taskforce, established by NHS England to develop a five-year strategy for cancer services, emphasised the vital role of both prehabilitation and rehabilitation in reducing the future needs of people with cancer.

However, access to services remains inconsistent across the country and has not yet been embedded across the cancer treatment pathway.

Active Against Cancer is a two year pilot based in Harrogate, offering one-to-one consultations and bespoke activity programmes delivered by highly specialist trainers who are qualified to provide exercise sessions before, during and after cancer treatment. It aims to develop a model of care that can be rolled out across Yorkshire and throughout the UK.

Since launching in July, more than 170 patients have been referred into the service. About 1,200 patients are expected to join the scheme during the initial two year period.

Dr Thomas Collyer, Clinical Lead for Active Against Cancer and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Harrogate and District NHS Foundations Trust, said: “We are really excited to team up with Yorkshire Cancer Research to deliver this unique exercise referral service to patients living with cancer in Harrogate. We now know that exercise is so important in every part of the cancer journey and to be able to integrate exercise into the standard pathway of care of patients with cancer is an amazing opportunity.”

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “Exercise plays an incredibly important role in improving cancer outcomes, from helping patients become as physically fit as possible before surgery to helping relieve side effects of chemotherapy and in some cases, helping to reduce the chance of a cancer returning.

“This has been recognised by Public Health England, the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and other health organisations, but there is a huge amount of work to do before prehabilitation and rehabilitation becomes a standard part of the cancer pathway.

“Through Active Against Cancer, we aim to showcase how exercise referral services can be introduced and ultimately give patients across Yorkshire the opportunity to access this vital part of cancer treatment and care. We’d like to thank our generous supporters for making Active Against Cancer possible.”

Steve Russell, Chief Executive at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Active Against Cancer team have put in a phenomenal amount of effort to launch this service for patients with cancer, and I’m delighted to see the immediate impact it’s having. We’re already so proud of Active Against Cancer and what’s been achieved. Thank you to Yorkshire Cancer Research for their support and for funding this pilot.”


Contact: Nikki Brady, Public Relations Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: [email protected]

About Yorkshire Cancer Research

  • Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • Current statistics show that 583 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week.
  • Our mission is for 2,000 more people to survive cancer every year in Yorkshire.
  • There are lots of cancer problems across the region that need to be tackled on a local level. We work in partnership with researchers, clinicians, the NHS, public health bodies and other charities to fund innovative work in four key areas: prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials.
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