Keep all three NHS Lothian hydrotherapy pools open.
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NHS Lothian patients are very distressed and concerned that the pools are in danger of closing because we know that:
1) The pools are a major benefit to people with a number of different long term conditions and those recovering from surgery. It greatly reduces pain, improves muscle condition and allows patients to reduce their pain medication and remain in work. Patients also report that hydrotherapy sessions have improved their mental health and reduced social isolation. These benefits can not be replicated through other therapies. Access to warm water in a fully accessible pool is the only way to provide the combination of support and resistance that makes hydrotherapy so effective. For some, time in the pool is the only time that pain is significantly reduced or that they can exercise or be mobile without aids.
2) A number of disability groups including Back Care, Headway, the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS) and Parkinson’s UK hire out the pools to provide additional hydrotherapy and accessible swimming sessions. Should the pools shut, these groups would have very limited options if they should try to keep their sessions going. No other pools in Lothians have the combination of sufficient facilities (including hoists, steps into the pools and accessible changing areas) and warmer water which greatly cuts down the risk of muscles going into spasm.
3) The budget that is being cut, Allied Health Professions (AHP) does NOT pay for the maintenance or running costs of the pool which fall under the budgets for the maintenance of hospital buildings and facilities. Therefore the proposed cut is simply an attempt to save on staff time. However, the physiotherapists can see five people in the pool in one hour but only two people per hour on land. We are therefore concerned that closing the pools will increase pressure on and waiting times for on land physiotherapy sessions. The pools are hired out to groups and therefore can generate income. More groups would hire out the pools if NHS Lothain would advertise this option.
4) Reopening the pools would be very costly. So if they do close they are very unlikely to be reopened again. Many patients report being able to reduce their pain medications due to the benefits of hydrotherapy. The long term effects of this cut may include NHS Lothian spending more on additional pain medications than they will save on closing the pools.
5) NHS Lothian has just completed a costly and lengthy refurbishment of the pool at Astley Ainslie. To close it before it has even reopened does not make sense and will be a waste of all the resources that went into the refurbishment. NHS managers would have conducted feasibility studies and a cost benefit analysis before taking on such a project. They must have evidence of the benefits of hydrotherapy services and be convinced of its benefits. For an AHP budget cut to reverse all that work does not add up.
6) It has recently been announced that the pool at Charing Cross will reopen this month. It was closed in December due to cuts but the local health board was pressured into a u-turn. Nobody wants to see NHS Lothian having to deal with the fallout from having to make a similar u-turn.
Please keep all three of our pools open.
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