Thursday, 12 January 2017

Hydrotherapy Pool Campaign Update

We are very pleased with the support that local politicians of all parties have given to the hydrotherapy pool campaign. It's been much appreciated by the campaign group and we are particularly pleased with the excellent letter from my successor, Alok Sharma MP to the new hospital chief executive Steve McManus.

Reading East MP Rob Wilson is also onside and has posted statements on his website and Facebook page including this recent update:

"Essentially, I think that the Trust has handled this situation poorly. It should now seek to engage immediately with campaigners and service-users and back away from its current position by undertaking a re-evaluation of the closure plan. With a new Chief Executive, this is the perfect opportunity to reassess."

Alok is organising a delegation to meet the RBH management from the various charities and patient groups that currently use the pool. This is taking place on Friday 20th January and I will be attending to represent the MS Therapy Centre and to give some background to the issue. 

As well as our two Conservative MPs Reading's Labour Councillors have been strong supporters with a number turning up for our recent petitioning session in Broad St. They are preparing to pass a resolution at the Council meeting later this month condemning the closure. 

I've also been invited to ask a public question at the next meeting of the Reading borough Council's Health and Well Being panel on Fri 27th which will be another opportunity to highlight the issue. 

We are petitioning again in Broad St Mall on Friday 13th Janaury  from 11am to 1pm and next week we will be publishing a comprehensive dossier dismantling the hospital's case for closure. This will be sent to all hospital governors ahead of their Council of Governors meeting on January 25th where we are hoping to begin the process of getting the closure plans overturned.

If you would like to write to the governors expressing your opposition to the planned closure of the hydrotherapy pool you can find their details here:

To make things a little easier I've drafted some text that can be used in any emails to the RBH governors but obviously it's good if people use their own words as well.

" Do you recognise the extent of public anger and concern at the decision to close the hydrotherapy pool at the Royal Berkshire Hospital which provides treatment, rehab and relief for disabled people, those recovering from stokes or neuro surgery, sufferers of chronic pain conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's, ankylosing spondylitis as well degenerative diseases such as MS? Since this decision was taken without any consultation with patients groups, the local community or even the Hospital's Council of Governors and the announcement has been marked by misinformation and contradictory statements from the Hospital Trust can I urge you to vote for the suspension of the closure process and the opening up of a meaningful dialogue with clinicians and patients on finding a way forward."

All in all the campaign is going well but please keep sending those emails, writing to the local papers, getting signatures on the petition and spreading the word amongst your friends and colleagues. 

Many thanks

Martin Salter
Berkshire MS Therapy Centre