NHS pledge on BGH pool

John Raine, chairman of NHS Borders.
John Raine, chairman of NHS Borders.

NHS Borders chairman John Raine has pledged to do all he can to keep the BGH’s hydrotherapy pool open until a replacement is ready.

Mr Raine was speaking this week, after campaigners trying to save the hospital pool from planned closure, put forward options to allow its continued use.

NHS Borders decided last May to close the pool as part of the second phase of a crucial £500,000 revamp of the hospital’s outpatients department.

Water-based exercise sessions will be provided at local swimming pools, while a purpose-built facility at Jedburgh will provide hydrotherapy.

However, the latter is dependent on the Jedburgh pool trustees gaining planning consent and securing funding.

The Borders Patient Action Group, although disappointed when health chiefs reconfirmed their closure decision, was heartened by a suggestion some of its proposed options could be piloted at the BGH, working towards a smooth transition to a hydrotherapy pool at Jedburgh.

Mr Raine praised BPAG for its professionalism, but said a proposal to allow sports clubs and others to use the BGH pool as a way of rejuvenating the facility, had overlooked the fact the pool is in the way of the second phase of outpatient redevelopment.

There would also be issues around infection control and public access, he said.

“This [outpatient redevelopment] is still a priority, although it hinges on upwards of £500,000 becoming available and we also want to see progress at Jedburgh,” said Mr Raine, adding the BGH outpatients department sees almost 70,000 appointments a year.

As well as that requirement, Mr Raine says there is a genuine belief that what NHS Borders intends will see a much broader-based service than that provided by the hospital’s pool alone.

He told us: “It [the new Jedburgh pool] would still be accessible to a large number of people across the Borders.

“And, combined with provision in swimming pools, it makes for a broader, more accessible and, perhaps, fairer distribution of resources.

“But it does hinge on the Jedburgh element getting the go-ahead on funding and planning.

“If that was to collapse, we would have to go back to square one and I believe we would then have to have another consultation.”

Mr Raine says his wish is for the BGH pool to remain open until a replacement is operational.

“That would be my intention, and as far as I can control events, I will do my very best to ensure we dovetail provision so that the hydrotherapy pool doesn’t close until there is a reprovided service.”