Anger as cuts hit specialist classes aimed at getting people back to health

Funding concerns over specialist training at Temple Park Centre for those with health problems. Christine Mitcheson

Funding concerns over specialist training at Temple Park Centre for those with health problems. Christine Mitcheson

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Classes designed to help patients get back on their feet after a health scare are under threat as cuts to local authority services continue.

The move has angered people who use the gyms across the borough - including those at Temple Park and Haven Point.

Funding concerns over specialist training at Temple Park Centre for those with health problems.

Funding concerns over specialist training at Temple Park Centre for those with health problems.

It is understood the specialist trainers who take the sessions have been informed there is no longer funding for their positions.

Talks are currently underway with staff, unions and those affected by the move.

Council bosses have confirmed people will continue to receive sessions until their 12-week programme is complete.

Christine Mitcheson was referred to the sessions by her GP to help with asthma and cholesterol issues.

Without these classes there will be a lot more people worse off with their health.

Christine Mitcheson

The 76-year-old from South Shields said: “Where are we supposed to go - there isn’t anything else.

“The Government is con tinually going on about exercise, healthy eating and socialising. Then classes like these are cut. Without these classes there will be a lot more people worse off with their health.”

Fred Roberts, 76, from Whitburn, accessed the service after being referred by the hospital following problems with his heart.

He said: “I’ve been going for the past three to four weeks and I have just started to get back to fitness. Everyone is up in arms about it and think it’s a disgrace. ”

According to council figures, of those who start the scheme, less than a third complete the 12-week course.

Less than 10 per cent referred to the scheme actually increasing their physical activity.

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing said: “Let me reassure anyone currently receiving exercise referral sessions that they will continue to do so until the end of their 12 week programme and also include the follow up subsidy.

“Unfortunately, we have found that some health interventions are having limited success and so the strategic decision has been taken to change the way that we deliver change 4 life services across the borough.

“More emphasis will be placed on prevention services and promoting healthy living more widely including access to the wide range of exercise and physical opportunities in Council facilities and community led programmes such as walking groups.

“We are currently in discussions with our staff, trade unions, partners and service users about the changes and appreciate that this is an unsettling time for everyone concerned.

“The people of South Tyneside will continue to receive the support they need where they are eligible for services, however, with less Government funding we must look at new and more innovative ways of supporting people.”