A SCHEME which has helped thousands of people with serious health issues get more exercise is being scrapped, health bosses have announced. 

NHS Barnsley has announced it will stop funding the exercise referral scheme - for patients suffering from diabetes, heart problems - from the end of March, even though more than 6,000 locals have been helped by the scheme.

The scheme is run at the Metrodome, Hoyland, Royston and Dearnside Leisure Centres and the Dorothy Hyman Stadium, in Cudworth.

Patients are referred by their GP, but GPs were told not to refer patients after January 1 because patients would not have time to complete the ten week course before the funding ended.

Tim Wilson, Chief Executive of BPL said they were informed in December that funding would cease.

He added: "BPL are saddened by the loss of funding. We have received some outstanding feedback about the service and we are extremely proud of the success the scheme has achieved."

A spokesman for NHS Barnsley said: “This exercise referral scheme was commissioned by NHS Barnsley in autumn 2011 as just one of a wide range of other services that work with local people to support them to manage their weight and their health conditions. This particular service was only contracted for 18 months' duration and therefore is due to come to an end on March 31."