Free ‘long COVID’ rehabilitation programme launched in Aylesbury

Nuffield Health has launched a free 12-week specialist recovery programme in Buckinghamshire.

By Thomas Bamford
Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 10:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 10:44 am
Nuffield Health in Fairford Leys
Nuffield Health in Fairford Leys

The programme, which is the first of its kind, has been designed to help the ever-growing number of people who are finding it difficult to recover from the long-term effects of COVID-19.

One in 10 people who are infected with COVID-19 will develop some form of long COVID, with symptoms including breathlessness, anxiety and chronic fatigue.

Patients are currently discharged from hospital with no formal recovery plan, which can result in a longer recovery process, and prolonged side effects.

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Findings from the Nuffield Health Healthier Nation Index, a comprehensive survey of just over 8,000 Britons, found that 7% - representing an estimated 3.65 million people – said they have struggled to exercise in the last 12 months due to long-term symptoms, or long COVID.

The new programme, which is available at Nuffield Health’s Fitness and Wellbeing centres in Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, blends together physical therapy and mental health support. Participants receive personalised support from a rehabilitation specialist who has undergone comprehensive clinical training and are able to offer emotional, as well as physical support.

Early indications from the pilot programme show that it has positive benefits for reducing breathlessness, increasing functional capacity, reducing anxiety and improving physical fitness.

Participants work with their dedicated rehabilitation specialist to design an individual plan. The first six weeks are delivered virtually and include at home exercises, nutrition guidance and emotional wellbeing advice covering areas such as managing sleep, fatigue and anxiety. The next six weeks are delivered in person at Nuffield Health’s fitness and wellbeing centre in Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. Participants also receive on-demand workouts, weekly support calls and access to a community of participants where they can share their experiences.

The programme, having initially been run as a pilot at four locations, has launched across Nuffield Health fitness and wellbeing centres and will be expanded to over 40 locations by May. This is part of a national rollout which will ensure that Nuffield Health can help more people with their recovery and help to build a healthier nation.

Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, said:

“As the UK’s largest healthcare charity, our purpose is to build a healthier nation and we’re proud to offer patients this free programme in Buckinghamshire to help with their COVID-19 recovery.

“When COVID-19 hit, we quickly identified there was an unmet need for a growing number of patients who had been medically discharged but who still needed physical and emotional support. As the nation continues to recover, it is crucial that we remember that many patients are still struggling with symptoms and that’s why we’re doing everything we can to rollout our specialist recovery programme across the UK, so more people can access our services.”

Rehabilitation Specialists Kiaya Watson and Shannon Pearce at Nuffield Health Centres in Milton Keynes and Aylesbury said:

“We know that many people living in Buckinghamshire have seen their quality of life seriously impacted by debilitating and lingering COVID-19 symptoms. We are delighted to launch this programme and I would encourage everyone who feels like they are suffering in silence to get in touch. Our team is here to help and is committed to helping the nation recover from the pandemic and feel fitter, healthier, happier and stronger.”