Hospitals' hydrotherapy pools facing closure

TWO pools used by patients suffering from arthritis and rheumatism could close at two northern Lincolnshire hospitals.

A public consultation has been launched over the future of hydrotherapy pools operated by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Trust at the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby and Scunthorpe General Hospital. The trust says the Grimsby pool, which was used by 1,158 patients in the last full year, needs around 50,000 refurbishment work and doctors feel that the money would be better spent on alternative "land-based" treatments. Scunthorpe's pool was only refurbished a couple of years ago.

"We do some exercises on land as well as in the water. There's as much literature that supports water-based as land-based and vice-versa," said director of service and business development Angie Smithson.

Ms Smithson said the pools cost around 100,000 a year to run with the PCT paying for the treatments – but that did not cover the costs.

She added: "I f it comes out through consultation that it really is something we have to prioritise, we will look at it again."

The fundraising and communications manager at Arthritis Care Central England, Philip Brooks-Stephenson, said any decision to close the pools would impact on patients.

He said: "Many people with arthritis benefit from hydrotherapy, which promotes relaxation and helps to relieve pain, and free access to pools can be an essential part of their treatment.

"Local people with arthritis will now have to travel elsewhere to get to their nearest pool, causing them greater discomfort as well higher travel costs."

The full consultation document is available on the trust's website www.nlg.nhs.uk, and any comments can be e-mailed to nlg-tr.HydroTherapyConsultation@nhs.net.

For further information contact Ms Smithson on 01472 874111 ext 7785. The consultation runs until January 30.