Skip to main content

Wales' First Post COVID-19 Rehabilitation Programme

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has established a new service to help COVID-19 patients who had been ventilated in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Respiratory High Dependency Unit (HDU).

The Royal Gwent Hospital’s Respiratory Team set up this unique collaborative Rehabilitation Programme to support and aid the recovery of formerly ventilated COVID-19 patients post discharge. 

The Programme, the first of its kind in Wales, aims to get patients back to where they want to be, both mentally and physically, following an extended period in ICU or Respiratory HDU.  Longer stays in hospital ICU can have a significant impact on a patient’s physical functioning and quality of life.  The Service seeks to provide exclusive support to this group of patients.

The Programme brings together a range of specialist services under one roof and includes input from Respiratory, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Dietetics, Psychology Services and the National Exercise Referral Team.  All the support is driven and led by the patient, tailoring the programme to their individual need.

The Respiratory Team identified the need for post-ventilated patients to have dedicated rehabilitation to aid physical and mental recovery.   It was also largely driven by requests from patients and family members post-discharge who wanted advice as to how they could best support the distinct and specialist patient requirements.

The programme, solely for patients who have been ventilated, runs over an 8 week period and involves a total of 40 patients, all of whom have been identified by a Multi-Disciplinary Team assessment as benefitting from specialist input from a range of support services.

Dr Martha Scott, Clinical Director for Respiratory Services, instrumental in establishing the project alongside Lead Clinician, Dr Sara Fairbairn, said,

 “Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is pleased to be able to offer a new collaborative post Covid-19 rehabilitation programme, for those that have experienced critical illness resultant from Covid-19 infection.

“This is the first bespoke post Covid-19 programme that is to be offered in Wales.”

Dr Sara Fairbairn added,

“This has been enabled due to dynamic multidisciplinary team working across a number of specialties including, respiratory, critical care, physiotherapist, psychology, dietetics and OT.

“We hope this allows the best recovery possible for these patients.”


The Programme takes place at the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales, Newport, chosen to support the need for the service to run in compliance with appropriate infection prevention and social distancing measures.   It runs twice weekly (Tuesdays and Thursdays) with two 90 minute sessions per day. An individual patient attends once a week in a group of 10 patients.


Steve Ward, Chief Executive for Newport Live said,

“Whilst our venues are closed to the public, we have been working with an amazing team at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and our Newport Exercise Referral colleagues to ensure the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales offered a venue that is suitable, safe and clean in order to help with patients’ rehabilitation.

“The team at Newport Live has been privileged to be a part of the development of a vital new service, and are proud to be able to support this pilot; the first of its kind in the UK and wish everyone well with their ongoing recovery.”


Scott Howell, the Royal Gwent Hospital’s first Covid-19 patient, who spent eight weeks in hospital, is one of the patients taking part in the programme.  He said,

“When I was told about this service I thought it was amazing. You don’t expect the NHS to provide such brilliant support as they already do enough, but I think this will help lots of people who have been in Intensive Care.”