A NEW service has been launched in Southampton to support cancer patients struggling to cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Southampton University Hospital has joined forces with the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) and Macmillan Cancer Support to launch SafeFit, an online trial that is free to join.

Safefit aims to help patients exercise, support their mental wellbeing and provide them with nutritional advice.

Daily Echo: Southampton General Hospital.Southampton General Hospital.

Pioneering studies have show that prehabilitation - getting into the best possible shape before and during cancer treatment – has significant benefits for patients.

After an initial assessment, those with diagnosed or suspected cancer can benefit from one-to-one telephone or video consultations, plus emotional support, video exercise sessions and advice on healthy eating.

The launch of Safefit follows a £99,903 grant from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund.

SafeFit has been developed by internationally-renowned cancer research, exercise, and wellbeing specialists.

Those who have already benefitted include Yvonne Mackerlich Maule, who said: “The instructor I was paired up with was a great match, very knowledgeable and each week pushed me that little bit further. Having someone there to support my needs was at this time worth its weight in gold.”

The launch of SafeFit follows the decision to suspend the earlier WesFit trial.

Professor Sandy Jack, Professor of Prehabilitation Medicine at University Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Back in March my team had to call nine cancer patients in one day to explain we were pausing WesFit - all were completely devastated.

“I was clear we had to find a way to support these people and others like them through the pandemic.”

About 53% of cancer patients suffer from problems such as anxiety, tiredness and depression.

An RCoA spokesperson said: “Being physically active has been shown to slow disease progression, improve survival and reduce the chance of recurrence.

“Leading a physically active lifestyle is linked to improvements in many of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatments.”