Derry City & Strabane - George back behind the wheel with support of GP Referral Scheme




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George back behind the wheel with support of GP Referral Scheme

26 October 2020
George Haslett’s road to recovery after a farming accident two years ago has reached a significant milestone after the Claudy man passed his driving test earlier this month.
With the support of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s GP Referral Scheme, George has enjoyed an unprecedented rehabilitation after being overcome by slurry fumes at his Ballyhanedin Road farm in 2018.
The 46 year old spend two months in a coma in Altnagelvin Hospital and had to learn to speak, walk and eat again.
Under the watchful eye of GP Referral Coach at the Foyle Arena, Rosie O’Brien, he has seen his fitness, strength and reactions all improve through regular gym and swimming sessions.
“My recovery since the accident has been like coming back from being a baby where I’ve had to learn basic functions again, so to pass my test feels like going from a child to a man,” said George.
“I remember originally passing my test back in 1991, when I was 17, it actually felt better this time around because you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.
“It is life changing for me and I feel I have my independence back, when you live a rural location having a driving license is nearly a must and I don’t have to rely on lifts or public transport now.”
The GP Referral Scheme allows doctors, physios, social workers, occupational therapists and mental health workers to refer candidates onto the ‘Steps to Health' programme.
Medical conditions that can be referred to on the program are diabetes type 1 and type 2, pre diabetes, BMI, muscular skeletal disorders, mild to moderate mental health conditions and respiratory conditions.
George had to train from home for several months this year during the lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of Covid 19 but he is back to enjoying three one hour sessions a week in the Foyle Arena.
“You can lose your fitness and gain weight very quickly if you don’t train, even two weeks out can have a huge impact so at the start of lockdown I made sure I used my cross trainer at home every second day.
“I would recommend the programme to anyone who is experiencing health issues, I started with low base of fitness, strength and reactions and they have all improved.
“It gives me a great sense of purpose to get out of the house and come here to do my training.
“The road to recovery is a long one but milestones such as this make all the training worthwhile.”
GP Referral Coach at the Foyle Arena, Rosie O’Brien, added: “George was a great candidate for the programme, he is very determined and one of his main goals from the start was to get his driving license again.
“He is very popular with the staff and has got to know them all over the last two years.
“Exercise intervention and lifestyle choices have proven to have positive outcomes for clients from weight loss, reduced medications, reversal of some conditions, improved mental health and emotional and physical well being”.
“It was a setback for all the programme participants when the lockdown restrictions were introduced, we kept in touch through phone calls and a closed Facebook group and they worked on exercises they could do from home.
“George worked away on his own programme and continued to build his strength and stamina and we are delighted for him that he has reached this milestone in his rehabilitation by getting back on the road.”
In the first eight weeks of the GP Referral Scheme, clients will be offered two sessions with a trainer per week and access to all other facilities within the leisure centres’ including swimming pools.
At the end of the eight week programme, reduced membership rates are available for the next four months to encourage clients to continue their progress.
Clients can now be referred online through a Closed Communications Gateway (CCG) Platform.
For full details of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Leisure Facilities visit