Abbeycroft’s Bury St. Edmunds Leisure Centre has become the first in the country to be awarded a quality standard for its Exercise Referral Scheme (ERS).
The accreditation has been developed by Suffolk County Council’s Public Health team in partnership with leisure operators and quality management expert Right Directions; with input from GPs and health professionals.
The county-wide standard is the first of its kind in the UK and aims to reassure GPs and health professionals that they can refer in the knowledge accredited facilities are successfully delivering programmes that have been rigorously tested using ‘real-world’ criteria.
Cllr James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Health, said: “I would like to congratulate Bury Leisure centre on being the first in Suffolk to achieve the new standard. This scheme is important in supporting people to be active and another step on our journey to becoming the most active county in England. We know physical activity has significant benefits for health, both physical and mental, and can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
“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, whilst also raising the profile of the excellent schemes available within the county.”
Warren Smyth, CEO of Abbeycroft Leisure, which manages Bury St. Edmunds Leisure Centre said: “It’s exciting for the team at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre to be the first centre to achieve the Suffolk Exercise on Referral Quality Standard. 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. The development of the quality standard is an extremely important milestone for all providers of Exercise on Referral Schemes.”
Gill Twell is Head of Development at Right Directions, which delivers Sport England’s Quest quality scheme, ukactive’s Code of Practice, the Activity Alliance’s IFI Mark and accreditation for the Swim England’s Learn to Swim Pathway. She explains: “The new module will allow facilities running ERS 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.”
Existing scheme providers can save time and money by incorporating the new Exercise Referral Quality Standard free of charge, as one of the ‘generic’ modules within Sport England’s quality assurance framework, Quest. For facilities not part of Quest, or privately owned, the new standard can be provided by Right Directions as a stand-alone module.