The draft National Exercise Referral Framework has been published for public consultation with a closing date for submissions of 3rd November at 11.45pm. The Federation along with the Irish Sports Council and a number of our members were part of the expert group which helped provide input to the framework.
The Framework is intended to allow healthcare professionals, such as GPs and Physios, to refer a patient to an exercise programme in the community and this could include programmes developed and run by National Governing Bodies of Sport and initiatives of  the Local Sports Partnerships. Donegal Sports Partnership were involved in a pilot programme called the Green Prescription programme which was successful in engaging people referred into community programmes in a number of settings in Donegal.
A presentation on the draft Framework can be viewed by clicking here
The Draft NERF document can be viewed here: NERF Draft 2
The feedback form can be viewed here: NERF Draft 2 Public consultation feedback form
The Health Service Executive (HSE) developed the GP Exercise Referral Programme (GPERP) to support individuals to become more physically active. However, a recent SWOT analysis of the GPERP outlined the need for a new national framework for exercise referral. Following a tender process, Dublin City University (DCU) were commissioned by the HSE to develop a new National Exercise for Health Referral Framework for Ireland. The project is overseen by a Working Group** and a Cross Divisional Group within the HSE.
Physical activity has both disease prevention and health promoting properties. Regular physical activity has been called a miracle drug, one that has numerous health benefits and can substantially increase the disability-free lifespan. It enhances wellbeing, physical and mental health, prevents disease, and provides economic benefits to both the individual and the state. It contributes to environmental sustainability, and improves social connectedness and quality of life.
It is anticipated that NERF will be delivered in the supportive context of Healthy Ireland’s National Health and Wellbeing Framework, the National Physical Activity Plan and the Chronic Disease Prevention Programme.
This document presents a draft framework for a feasible and sustainable national exercise referral system for Ireland. NERF will focus on Individuals living with an established non-communicable diseases or disability. The framework recommends that inactive, sedentary or individuals at risk of developing a NCD are given brief advice or brief intervention, which is outside the remit of the NERF.
Consultation Process
An important part in the process of developing the framework is consultation. A broad-based Advisory Panel made up of representatives from the health (N=36; including clinicians, clinical leads, health promotion and allied health professionals) and non- health sectors (N=30; including recreation and leisure professionals, physical activity providers, academics and advocacy groups) have already been engaged in the consultation process.
An Expert Symposium which consisted of presentations from international experts on Exercise Referral was held in DCU in June 2014. At this symposium the Advisory Panel and international experts discussed the direction and role of exercise referral within the Irish healthcare system. The following day, the international experts and the working group reviewed the symposium advice and NERF Draft 1 was developed. Draft 1 was distributed to the Advisory Panel for review. Guided by their feedback, NERF Draft 2 is now ready for public consultation.

More information can be found here: