LEEP Team Photo

Lung Exercise & Education Programme (LEEP)

The Lung Exercise and Education Programme (known in our Trust as “LEEP”) is a Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme, which means a programme for people who are limited by breathlessness from a chronic lung condition. 

LEEP is led by the Respiratory Specialist Physiotherapists, with medical support and advice from the Respiratory Consultant Team in the Trust. 

LEEP runs twice weekly on Tuesday and Friday afternoons at Cossham Hospital, and you are required to attend the programme for 6 weeks, meaning a total of 12 sessions.  Each session is just under 2 hours long and consists of an hour of a supervised exercise class where exercises are tailored to a person’s abilities individually, each person exercises according to their own symptoms of breathlessness.  The remaining part of each session is dedicated to delivering education about various aspects of living with lung disease and giving strategies for patients to help manage this themselves.  The aim is that people are empowered to understand more about their lung condition, can manage their symptoms better and have the right information to help them make informed decisions about their self-management, such as recognising and managing chest infections and when to seek medical help.   These educational sessions are delivered by Physiotherapists, Consultants, Specialist Registrars, Psychologists, Nurses and Physiotherapy Exercise Technicians.

Similar programmes to the one run by the Respiratory Specialist Team based at Cossham, are also run by Sirona Care & Health in the community in areas such as The Greenway Centre Southmead, Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre, The Park at Knowle and The Healthy Living Centre in Weston Super Mare, full details can be found on their website

There is strong scientific evidence for Pulmonary Rehabilitation and it is recommended in the guidelines for managing several chronic respiratory conditions, such as COPD, Bronchiectasis and Pulmonary Fibrosis.  The benefits to a person are an improvement in exercise tolerance, improved quality of life, improved confidence in doing physical activities, all of which have a positive impact on mood and wellbeing.  People report they feel more in control of their condition and feel more empowered after completing it.  Evidence also suggests that people that have completed pulmonary rehabilitation within the last 12 months are less likely to be admitted to hospital with an exacerbation (or episode of worsening) of their condition, and those that are admitted have a much shorter hospital admission than those who haven’t done Pulmonary Rehab.  It is suitable for anyone with a diagnosed chronic respiratory condition who is limited by breathlessness in daily life, such as walking on the flat, walking on hills, doing chores etc.  Patients are able to repeat Pulmonary Rehabilitation, after 12 months, if they have deteriorated or haven’t been able to maintain regular exercise since finishing the programme.

LEEP receives referrals from GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists and community teams in primary care, and from the Respiratory Specialist Team and Hospital Consultants in Secondary care, such as Southmead Hospital.    Patients who have already been referred to the programme but who have been temporarily discharged before completing, are able to self-refer back into the programme within 3 months, by telephoning the LEEP office on 0117 414 2010.

All people referred to the service are invited to attend an Introductory session to explain the programme and to offer the choices available, including alternative venues or days of the week that are offered by Sirona.  Patients are then offered and booked into individual assessment appointments to take their full medical history and to ensure that they are suitable to do the programme and enrolled to start.  Following their 6 week course, patients are then given a discharge assessment to gather information about how they have benefited from the programme which is reported back to their doctor.  An individual ongoing exercise plan is also set to help guide the person to maintaining increased activity levels in the longer term.

Since LEEP began at Frenchay Hospital in 1994, it has evolved, moved locations and adapted to constantly improve the programme and patient experience and to meet the growing demand, as popularity for pulmonary rehabilitation has increased.  We accept referrals for patients with a variety of conditions such as COPD, Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, Bronchiectasis, Asthma, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Asbestosis, other Interstitial Lung Diseases, Lung cancer and others.  Following the pandemic, another option for Pulmonary rehabilitation was also derived, which consists of a home based programme where patients are supported via twice weekly phone-calls to complete the programme at home, progress the exercises and to receive the education and self-management advice.  This option is offered to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in pulmonary rehabilitation classes at Cossham or locally.   

LEEP is currently working towards becoming a nationally accredited service, under the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services Accreditation Scheme.  This is a 2 year project, the main focus of which is formalising standards and ensuring excellent standards of care and delivery are met, along with a continuous quality improvement drive.


Feedback (people that completed LEEP in 2023):

“If you’re offered it, go.  I found it really enjoyable and found out some things about my condition I didn’t know”

“It would only be to your advantage and you’re allowed to take the sessions at your own pace”

“I found all of it helpful and got inspiration from watching others in worse health than me, doing the course”

“The thought of physical exercise frightened me but the programme encouraged me to try and push myself”

“Don’t give up, it’s never too late to try”

“Helpful meeting other people with the same condition and all the information from the staff was very helpful”

“The staff are so helpful in explaining and giving confidence to cope with your condition”

“Anyone with chest problems can only gain from this course, apart from meeting other people affected, and building confidence and knowledge of how you can improve your condition”


Contact LEEP

The LEEP Team can be contact on 0117 4142010 or via email at leep@nbt.nhs.uk.  Referrals are accepted via emailed LEEP referral form*, on the ICE referral system or at: The LEEP Office, Physiotherapy Department, Cossham Hospital, Lodge Road, Kingswood, Bristol BS15 1LF.  


Enjoyed the course immensely and amazed at how much I am actually able to do in the way of exercise.

Lung Exercise & Education Programme (LEEP)