Patient participant John Haigh demonstrates typical Prehabilitation assessments to HRH the princess royal

Princess Anne met with staff and patients on her visit to the specialist cancer programme.

As Patron of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, Her Royal Highness alongside Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham and representatives from the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, was introduced to a number of staff working on the specialist cancer programme, including exercise specialists, people affected by cancer enrolled on the service, its Clinical Director Dr John Moore and its Allied Health Professional (AHP) Occupational Therapist Clinical Lead Zoe Merchant.

The Princess Royal was shown several demonstrations of typical prehabilitation assessments and interventions and heard first-hand the impact this programme is having on patients’ physical and mental wellbeing in the lead up to and after cancer treatment. She also heard how the programme adapted to a virtual delivery model during the Covi-19 pandemic to ensure patients awaiting cancer treatment continued to receive this support.

The service offers evidence-based cancer prehabilitation and rehabilitation, designed to improve clinical outcomes with increased survival rates and improved morbidity. It incorporates exercise, nutrition and wellbeing interventions, in order to:

  • Optimise people diagnosed with cancer prior to undertaking treatment (surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy)
  • Support enhanced recovery, including reducing the risk of complications and reducing time spent in hospital
  • Support mental wellbeing
  • Build a healthier lifestyle to live well beyond treatment

To date, approximately 2,500 cancer patients from across Greater Manchester have participated in the programme. This model is the first prehabilitation programme in the country to be delivered system-wide and at this scale. The service is planned to continue to benefit a wider patient population in the future.

The programme represents a partnership between the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, leading the development and funding of the service, and GM Active, the representative body for the local authority owned leisure and wellness facilities used to deliver the service. This network of facilities allows participation for patients close to home for normalisation, improved accessibility and long-term behavioural change. Exercise specialists delivering the programme receive cancer rehabilitation qualifications and benefit from guidance from the programme’s occupational therapy lead, focused on psychosocial, activity analysis, adaptive skills and the overall ethos of occupational therapy.