Pioneering 'Prehabilitation' programme up for national award


The groundbreaking WesFit study into exercise and psychological support before cancer surgery has been shortlisted for the 2020 Health Services Journal Value Awards, which recognise outstanding dedication to making things better in the NHS. 

The £2.3 million study comparing the impact of pre-surgical exercise, psychological support or both combined was initially funded by the Wessex Cancer Alliance as a Wessex-wide project, but now has multiple other regional NHS England cancer alliances seeking to join, with Plymouth Hospital the latest site to open in November 2019.

 “This is fantastic news for the team, the communities and the patients involved in the trial here in Wessex and elsewhere across the UK.” Comments study lead, Prof. Sandy Jack

Prof. Jack’s team and the  Wessex Cancer Alliance work in partnership with cancer charities, leisure facilities and local councils across Wessex, transforming pre-surgical care and bringing it closer to patients’ homes – helping see it selected ahead of hundreds of other projects to make the shortlist.

“Together we’re establishing the evidence for a whole new approach to cancer surgery services – focussing on getting people into the best possible shape before their operation to improve recovery, outcomes and help them stay healthy for the rest of their lives.” Adds Sally Rickard, Director of the Wessex Cancer Alliance

WesFit is rapidly translating Prof Jack’s pioneering research into frontline clinical practice. Those studies showed that structured, high intensity exercise in the six weeks between chemotherapy and surgery returned patients’ physical fitness to pre-chemotherapy levels before they entered the operating theatre.

“That’s important because we know that in major surgery physical fitness has a big impact on how fast you recover, your chances of complications and your long term outcomes.” Explains Prof. Mike Grocott, head of the Southampton Critical Care Research group.

“Not only have we shown this improvement in pre-surgery fitness, evidence of reduced complications and massively improved quality of life, we’ve also published data showing that this kind of exercise results in the tumour itself shrinking ahead of surgery.” Adds Prof. Grocott .

The team will be there at the HSJ Value Awards 2020 awards ceremony on 21 May, and will be hoping to take the title for all those involved.

Posted on Tuesday 3 March 2020