Petition to safeguard hospital pool

THERE is a question mark over the future of hydrotherapy facilities at Borders General Hospital, TheSouthern can reveal this week.

Following enquiries by us, NHS Borders this week confirmed that the provision of hydrotherapy facilities was under review.

The issue was flagged up by Stow resident, Ruth Flavin, who has benefitted from the pool in the past as part of previous physiotherapy treatment for a ruptured disc in her back.

And a recent course of chemotherapy has seen the disc collapse again, so she has been a regular user of the pool, which is part of the hospital’s physiotherapy department.

“The hydrotherapy pool is just so important, so I’m very angry if there’s any suggestion it might be closed,” she said, after telling TheSouthern it had been brought to her attention that the pool and physiotherapy department gym might be closed by Christmas as part of plans to move the department to another part of the hospital.

“And I’m sure all the other patients who use it will feel the same. It’s not as if the pool or the gym are standing idle. They are both very well used.”

Quizzed about the possible threat to the pool facilities at the hospital, Warwick Shaw, head of delivery support for the local health service, explained: “NHS Borders has been given the opportunity to explore the potential of obtaining £2.2m from the Scottish Government to enable us to resolve the issues we have with our existing Mental Health and Out Patient facilities, which are not fit for the purpose of delivering modern healthcare.

“This is an opportunity to ensure more efficient and effective ways of working and improved patient experiences by shifting the balance of care to less bed-based services and more non-ward based patient encounters.

“As part of this work, we aim to create a new, modern and more accessible Out Patient department on the ground floor of the BGH.

“This will include a new rehabilitation department – which incorporates physiotherapy and occupational therapy – as well as provide an expanded, fit-for-purpose Physiological Measurement Department; bring Audiology services together; and create a fit-for-purpose dermatology suite.

“However there are some outstanding issues, including the provision of hydrotherapy.

“The Mental Health Unit changes are to address clinical risks and improve safety of patients; one issue during the work is maintaining a service at the BGH for mental health assessments.

“These outstanding issues need to be considered before determining whether to progress the schemes to deliver the changes we want.

“We are working with staff and also will be liaising with patient representatives on developing these schemes and we will announce details in due course.”

Informed about NHS Borders’s statement, Mrs Flavin revealed she has now started a petition to ensure the hydrotherapy pool and gym at the hospital were not done away with as part of any changes.

“The bigger the profile this story has the better, otherwise you will find things happen without too many people knowing about it and then it’s too late to do anything about it.”