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Prehab and rehab transformation Manchester

Published: 12 October 2021

This initiative aimed to transform prehabilitation and rehabilitation for patients in Greater Manchester. Zoe Merchant, Prehab4Cancer AHP clinical lead and former Programme Lead, and Catherine Neck, who helped with the independent evaluation, explain the steps they took and the impact and outcomes. 

Catherine Neck and Zoe Merchant Allied Health Professionals

The initiative

This initiative was set up by Zoe Merchant from GM Cancer Alliance with help from Catherine Neck from the NHS South Central and West Commissioning Support Unit. The aim was to deliver a prehab and rehab transformation project to 2000 patients with cancer in Greater Manchester to improve outcomes for people undergoing treatments.

What we did

Developed and delivered an evolving service for patients, as well as a virtual service during coronavirus. This focused on rehab after surgery.
  • The main focus was the optimisation of patients through their prehab phase and then improved recovery and long-term behaviour change during the rehab phases.
  • Developed and delivered an evolving virtual service for patients during coronavirus. For example, patients were issued with heart rate monitors and exercise sessions were delivered online – both 1-to-1 and in groups.
  • Looked at changes associated with improved survival for those who accessed the service. Fitness tests were used to show improvement in fitness and strength.
  • Patient outcomes and secondary care user data were reviewed to see how interventions compared to the control group without prehabilitation and rehabilitation over time. This included recording length of hospital and critical care bed stay, 30 and 90 day emergency presentation, and re-admissions.

Impact and outcomes

A community-based approach using leisure centres makes it far more accessible for patients, with over 3000 GM residents accessing the programme to date.
  • Patients had improved fitness, functional performance, and showed improved recovery and increased independence.
  • This initiative has developed a model of delivery that is transferrable by using leisure centres. It paves the way for the integrated care systems.
  • A community-based approach using leisure centres makes it far more accessible for patients, removing any barriers to engagement associated with travel.
  • Shared learning with colleagues nationally to support with learning and professional development.
  • Currently funded integrated care system of prehab and rehab for people undergoing curative treatment.
  • Read the full evaluation report on the SCW wbsite.

Future aims


For other healthcare teams across the UK to use this personalised prehab and rehab programme model to develop patient pathways and deliver at scale. Another aim is to expand the programme to patients with other types of cancer in GM who are currently not eligible for the service.


Find out more

You can contact the team by emailing Catherine Neck at and Zoe Merchant at


You can also visit the prehab4cancer website.


Connect with Catherine Neck and Zoe Merchant on Twitter:

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