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Newham exercise prescription pilot hailed a success by patients and GPs

Pictured at the front of the dance class are several women, including Maria (right) and Feroza (first left), who have taken part in the pilot. Pictured at the front of the dance class are several women, including Maria (right) and Feroza (first left), who have taken part in the pilot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
5:27 PM

Residents at risk of developing diabetes have given their backing to a pilot scheme that gives them a prescription for exercise, encouraging them to be more active and become healthier.

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Maria Bedoya is now leading a healthier, more active lifestyle after taking part in the pilotMaria Bedoya is now leading a healthier, more active lifestyle after taking part in the pilot

The pilot, known as Newham Community Prescription, gives patients the chance to join physical activity classes of their choice, such as Zumba, salsa dancing or Tai Chi, through a prescription from their GP.

All the classes are tailored towards the needs, cultures and lifestyles of local people and are provided by voluntary and community sector groups, including West Ham United FC Community Sports Trust, The London Tamil Sangam, Subco, Newham African Caribbean Recourse Centre, Bonny Downs and Age UK.

The scheme aims to reduce the risk of long-term health complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke or kidney disease by helping people to stay healthier, understand their condition and manage their own health. It was launched in October 2013 and is offered to patients at nine Newham surgeries.

Those who have taken part in the pilot say it works well for them and has helped them lose weight, forge friendships and gain self-confidence.

Feroza Udin is just one of many residents who have benefited from the pilotFeroza Udin is just one of many residents who have benefited from the pilot

It is also considered a success by health and care professionals and has been nominated in the diabetes care category for the prestigious Patient Safety and Care Awards 2014.

Dr Zuhair Zarifa, Chair of NHS Newham CCG and a local GP, said: “We’re delighted with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received from people who have taken part in the programme.

“Currently, over 21,000 people in Newham have diabetes, with 1,800 new cases being seen each year. Newham Community Prescription offers patients the support to take responsibility for managing their condition as well as to be more active, lose weight and achieve their health goals.”

Feroza Udin, from Forest Gate, a retired mother of two and a grandmother, was on the 238 bus to Stratford when the driver braked suddenly. Flung forward she fell hard, injuring her shoulder. Since then she has received cortisone injections to help with the pain. Her doctor said that using cortisone can cause diabetes. Although she eats a healthy diet, she finds it hard to keep up her fitness as her sore arm means she can’t swim anymore. Her GP wrote a prescription for fitness and flexibility with a healthy dose of fun. She now attends salsa dancing twice a week.

“I’ve made a lot of friends and I feel far more positive about myself coming here. My husband said I look more relaxed.”

Maria Bedoya, a mother of four from Manor Park, was told she was at a high risk of developing type-two diabetes. Her GP referred her to the pilot and she now attends weekly Zumba, salsa and swimming classes every week. She also changed her diet to eat more healthily. Since joining the pilot Maria feels confident, energetic and happier.

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