A health facility created with Olympic Legacy funding has been officially opened in Sheffield by former Sports Minister Richard Caborn.
New facilities at Concord Sports Centre, as part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) bring together clinical services, sport and exercise specialists and health professionals to make it easier for physical activity to become part of the treatment for a range of chronic health conditions.
Building work began in summer 2014 on the first phase of the work, which has cost a total of £800,000. The new facilities sit alongside the existing sports centre at Shiregreen, north Sheffield.
The project has seen an unused changing block transformed into a centre that promotes physical activity as a treatment in the NHS.
That new block houses seven clinical consulting rooms, education and training facilities, and a connection to the existing sports centre, so as to more fluidly connect health with physical activity.
Vital to the scheme is the co-location of sport and exercise medicine specialists, health practitioners, researchers, clinicians and patients in an innovative hub – right in the heart of a community that needs it.
The new centre was officially opened by Richard Caborn and Eileen Cooper, a patient who has already been referred to Concord Sports Centre by her GP.
Mr Caborn, project lead for the Olympic Legacy Park, which will be a research hub for the NCSEM in Sheffield, said: “This is a fantastic new facility which I’m extremely proud to open.
“Having clinical consulting rooms co-located with fitness facilities means that patients attending clinics based within the NCSEM at Concord can be referred by their specialist and simply ‘go down the corridor’ to meet their exercise instructor and start their programme.
“Combined with the development of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre on the Olympic Legacy Park, Sheffield will become a living laboratory, providing opportunities for people to live healthier and more fulfilled lives. This innovative approach to tackling a range of chronic health conditions puts Sheffield at the forefront of sport and exercise medicine.”
The centre at Concord is a joint project involving organisations including Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield City Trust (SCT).
Sheffield is one of three founding partners, along with Loughborough in the East Midlands and London, of the NCSEM. The city has recognised the need to address the chronic burden of disease caused by a sedentary culture and identified the NCSEM as an excellent vehicle through which to do so.
Steve Brailey, chief executive of Sheffield City Trust, which operates Concord Sports Centre, said: “Improving the health and wellbeing of the people of Sheffield is our primary charitable aim so we’re extremely proud to have opened the city’s first NCSEM site at Concord. It is another key step towards creating a culture of physical activity in the city.
“By placing clinics within successful community leisure venues like Concord, it reduces barriers to participation, ensures that patients are provided with high quality exercise facilities and makes it easier for exercise to be at the centre of the prescription process.”