Innovative Exeter-led cardiac rehab programme to spread across England

Innovative Exeter-led cardiac rehab programme to spread across England

An award-winning cardiac rehabilitation programme, led by the University of Exeter and part-funded by the South West Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), has received national funding from NHS England to roll-out across the country.


Taking up rehabilitation after experiencing heart failure improves quality of life, and can be lifesaving, yet programmes delivered in-person in health centres are often poorly attended. Rehabilitation Enablement in Chronic Heart Failure (REACH HF) gives people with heart failure an alternative to receiving rehabilitation in a hospital clinic, instead offering exercise, psychological support, and education from the comfort of their own home.

Research showed that REACH HF was not only clinically effective in improving health-related quality of life but also cost effective. The home-based rehabilitation programme proved particularly valuable at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, where many older and vulnerable people shielding at home were unable to attend hospital. An increasing body of evidence supports models of home-based rehabilitation as a successful alternative to traditional centre-based programmes.

The REACH-HF programme was developed by a collaboration involving several clinical and academic partners and has received research and implementation funding from a number of research funders including the South West AHSN.

Associate Professor Hasnain Dalal of the University of Exeter and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) said:

“NHS England is now providing funding to train 60 health care professionals in up to 20 sites across England in 2021-22.”

The two-day training programme will take place online, and health trusts are encouraged to apply early, with priority given to areas where the uptake of cardiac rehabilitation is currently the lowest based on the latest data from the National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation (NACR).

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