National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS)


The National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) is a Public Health Wales (PHW) funded scheme which has been in development since 2007. The Scheme targets clients aged 16 and over who have, or are at risk of developing, a chronic disease. The scheme is centrally managed by the Welsh local Government Association and has secured funding until March 31 2020.

NERS is an evidence-based health intervention incorporating physical activity and behavioral change techniques to support referred clients to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellbeing.

The principal aims of the scheme

  • To offer a high quality National Exercise Referral Scheme across Wales
  • To increase the long term adherence of clients to physical activity
  • To improve the physical and mental health of clients
  • To determine the effectiveness of the intervention in increasing clients’ activity levels and improving their health
Quality standards
  • All protocols used on the Scheme represent the best current known practice and meet with current national guidance. All exercise professionals operating the Scheme are appropriately trained and registered.
Structure of NERS
  • Operates in all 22 local authorities in Wales: 1 x National Manager -  1 x Policy Support Officer - 1 x Local Coordinator per local authority
  • Approximately 92 whole time equivalent specialist Exercise Referral Professional Instructors across Wales

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I access the service?

You will need to get referred by a Health Professional (usually your GP, Practice Nurse or a condition specific Physiotherapist) who will have access to the NERS referral dispensing website.

See patient’s leaflet / poster below for more information:

  • National Exercise Referral Scheme - Leaflet - Open link here
  • National Exercise Referral Scheme - Poster - Open link here
Am I eligible to access NERS?

The Scheme targets people aged 16 and over with, or at risk of developing, a chronic condition. There are set entry criteria and your health professional will need to check you meet these.

What will it cost?

Cost has recently risen to help maintain the service and it currently costs £2.00 per session; these charges are agreed locally on an annual basis.

How long does the scheme last?

The scheme lasts from 4-32 weeks dependant on referral reason; each session will last approximately 1 hour and activity will vary from an indoor activity; gym, circuits or an outdoor activity. You are required to attend regular sessions and attend follow up consultations at 16 and 52 weeks. Local provision or referral waiting times is variable dependant on availability of qualified staff. Please contact local coordinator if you have any queries.

What are the benefits of physical activity?

The physical benefits include:

  • The heart and lungs become stronger and more efficient
  • Muscular strength increases
  • Joints become stronger
  • The onset of osteoporosis can be delayed
  • Body fat and excess weight may be reduced
  • Relaxation and sleep might be improved
  • Being better able to carry out the activities of daily living
  • Feeling more alert and energetic
  • Maintaining good posture
  • Helping to normalise blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of developing diabetes
  • A reduced risk of blood clotting
  • Helping to maintain independence, rather than becoming dependant

The psychological benefits include:

Some comments people have made

  • “I feel less anxious and stressed”
  • “My confidence and self-esteem are better”
  • “Being more active helped me to to give up smoking”
  • “The activity sessions gave me time for myself”
  • “My wife says I look a lot happier”
  • “I took more responsibility for my own health”

The social benefits include:

Some comments people have made

  • “It was a good opportunity to meet other people who had the same worries as I did”
  • “The sessions made me get out of the house and gave me a new interest”
  • “I made new friends and enjoyed the conversations we had”
  • “I feel much fitter and can play with my grandchildren for longer now”

Contact Details

If you require further information about any aspects of the Scheme in your area please contact your local co-ordinator or the National Exercise Referral Scheme Manager for Wales Jeannie Wyatt-Williams or the National Exercise Referral Scheme Support Officer for Wales Elaine Scale


The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) represents the interests of local government and promotes local democracy in Wales.

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