GPERS keepers and expansion

The General Practitioner Exercise Referral Scheme (GPERS) program - in its twelfth year in the Sutherland and St George region - is still achieving great results, with expansion on the horizon. Following an investigation of the lifestyle modification programs (LMPs) available in the central and eastern Sydney region, Canterbury local government area (LGA) was highlighted as the area of greatest need. Initial steps for expansion are already underway.

The proposed sites for expansion are the Morris Iemma Indoor Sports Centre in Riverwood and the Canterbury Aquatic and Leisure Centre, with further discussions to take place before expansion is confirmed.

GPERS provides professional exercise programs prescribed by an exercise physiologist following an initial assessment and a referral from a GP. The program involves an initial assessment from the exercise physiologist, 10 group classes performing a personalised program, and a final assessment. Last financial year, Sutherland Leisure Centre, the flagship location, assessed 160 new participants, referred from 151 different GPs.

The program helps to manage diabetes, diabetic risk factors, overweight and obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. To commence the program an individual must have one of the aforementioned health complications and a referral form from their GP.

The exercise physiologist provides the GP with a report following the completion of the initial and final assessment, detailing any improvements made throughout the program.

The cost of the program currently ranges between $110-$124, with Medicare MBS item rebates potentially available. Discounted memberships following the completion of GPERS are also offered to assist with the continued lifestyle changes.

Other LGAs shown to have limited LMP options were Rockdale, Botany Bay and Marrickville. LMP expansion in these areas is being investigated, with findings from the Canterbury expansion and other research being used to guide the process.

For more information, and to find the referral form, please visit the GPERS page on our website.