BreathingSpace, the world-class healthcare facility in Rotherham that has become a model for best practice around the world, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in June 2017 when the team welcomed partners and patients to a garden party to reminisce over the past decade.

Saving the public sector upwards of £6.8m* since its launch in 2007, clinicians and nurses from BreathingSpace joined patients to share their own personal stories and to explain how the care that is given really is life-changing.


Harry, who was 48 when he first attended BreathingSpace in 2008, was admitted from Rotherham Hospital. He went on to attend the Pulmonary Rehabilitation classes and now visits BreathingSpace ever week. As a result of the sessions, Harry is now motivated to help himself and is being referred to Newcastle for consideration for lung transplant. 


Michael, a retired coal miner was 56 when he was referred to BreathingSpace in 2013. Despite being seen at other hospitals he had no clear diagnosis or understanding of what was wrong with him. Following tests, he was diagnosed at BreathingSpace as having pneumoconiosis.

He now attends exercise classes and a support group for people with this particular type of lung condition. Michael believes that BreathingSpace allays many of the fears that he has about the uncertainty of his future.


Marjorie first attended the Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme in 2007 when she was 59 years old. She has continued to attend the exercise programmes in some form over the last 10 years and plays an active part in the social activities offered.

As her lung disease has progressed Marjorie has required assessment for home oxygen, which has been organised and carried out by BreathingSpace. She continues to have support and follow up in the outpatient clinics.

Thanks to the ongoing care provided, Marjorie has been referred to the Sheffield surgical unit for consideration for lung volume reduction surgery which can help people to live longer, better lives.

Coalfields Respiratory Nurse Consultant at BreathingSpace, Gail Miles comments: “We really couldn’t have asked for a better turn out. The weather was glorious and so many people took the time out to come along and to celebrate with us. The Thai Chi demonstration and our very own choir received huge applause, which was simply wonderful.

“BreathingSpace is a very special facility, not least because of the people who have worked so hard to make it the success story that it is today. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners and all those that believed in a nurse-led facility. Without the support and funding that we received all those years ago it wouldn’t have been possible and we wouldn’t be here, sharing stories about patients whose lives have changed for the better.

“I am very proud of what BreathingSpace has delivered and we really do hope that others will consider taking this model and applying it in other areas around the country.”

The approach to patients at BreathingSpace, which encourages them to take part in activities, to get out of bed and to exercise, was a world-first and has provided a radical step-change in improving the quality of life for people in Rotherham, with reported deaths now 30% lower than the national average.

The development of the purpose-built facility was only possible thanks to an ambitious partnership between the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and the former Rotherham Primary Care Trust, with the support of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.

An initial investment of £7.24m from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, set the foundations and further support from partners means that the care model that is now provided from the facility has become a benchmark for best practice across the globe, receiving interest from the USA and China.

As part of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, members of the public can access BreathingSpace, based in the town, at no charge, via referral from their GP or other medical professionals, which in turn encourages attendance and contributes to the ongoing improvement of people’s health and wellbeing within the coalfield community.

Since opening its doors, the purpose-built facility has had more than 10,000 referrals with 4,000 people attending Pulmonary Rehabilitation sessions and 8,500 in-patient admissions. In the last two years alone, thanks to its direct admissions process, 1,674 hospital admissions have been avoided saving the public sector an estimated £1.3m. 

With a total of 909 patients admitted directly from GPs, paramedics and the community, while a further 215 were referred from A&E and 550 from the medical admissions unit, not only has the facility saved much-needed funds during continued times of austerity but it has also reduced the pressure on hospital beds.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has been supporting the 5.5m people living within coalfield communities since 1999. Providing practical help to organisations and social enterprises plus funding that supports varied activities with a focus on health, jobs creation, community and well-being, the organisation continues to have a positive impact on coalfield areas throughout England, Scotland and Wales.