Concerns over council cuts to instructors on cardiac rehabilitation programme

Mike Trewhella is worried about the cuts.
Mike Trewhella is worried about the cuts.

A grandfather has hit out at council cuts to a fitness course and is calling for a re-think.

Mike Trewhella, 70, from Jarrow, is one of more than 50 people on a cardiac rehabilitation programme run by South Tyneside Council as part of their Change 4 Life services.

The course is designed to get people back on their feet after a health scare.

Mr Trewhella claims that participants in the programme have been told that the seven specialist trainers which currently run the course are losing their jobs, with one person to take over.

The council says that changes will come into force from August, with users of the service able to continue on it.

The cardiac programme sees participants, who are mostly aged 60 and over, spend time on a rehabilitation course in hospital before increasing exercise outside with the same fitness instructors at venues including Monkton Stadium, in Jarrow.

Mr Trewhella, who has heart disease, has been on the course for over three months, and has told of his dismay at the change which is set to come.

He said: “The council have told us that they’re changing the programme a little bit, and are getting rid of seven fitness instructors and replacing them with one.

“I think it’s an absolute disgrace.

“How can one person do the work normally done by seven? It’s nonsense.”

Father-of-four and grandfather-of-three Mr Trewhella is calling on the council to re-think its decision.

However, Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “Due to reduced funding from central government, we reviewed the way that we deliver Change 4 Life services across the borough, taking into account views of members of the public.

“As a result of this, a Healthy Lives programme has been developed which will see the council provide 21 classes every week to help residents make healthy lifestyle choices and increase their fitness levels.

“We are stopping two under-used maternity-related classes but users of these classes will be directed to other maternity-based sessions of which there will be at least five per week.

“The classes will be delivered by the council’s Healthy Lives co-ordinator, supported by appropriately qualified freelance instructors.

“These changes are scheduled to take place from this August.

“Up until that point, customers who have been referred by doctors, midwives or health visitors should not notice any change to their current exercise regime and will receive their full 12-week programme of exercise and support.

“As per current arrangements, the council will also continue to deliver its work in hospital settings through a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programme.”