The Canberra Hospital hydrotherapy pool’s reprieve will be short-lived with the Government confirming on Wednesday that the ageing facility will need to close in a few months.
Users such as Arthritis ACT had campaigned to keep the pool open after the services were expected to move to the new facility at the University of Canberra Hospital, arguing that it was difficult for many with mobility issues to travel to the northside.
A petition backed by the Canberra Liberals saw former Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris back down on closing the pool at the end June, until an appropriate level of access at other suitable locations on the southside could be continued.
On Wednesday (7 August) Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith and representatives from the ACT Health Directorate and Canberra Health Services (CHS), met with Arthritis ACT and its members to present a review of the situation conducted by the Nous Group, which found the significant infrastructure and safety issues with the hydrotherapy pool at Canberra Hospital made it impossible to keep the pool open beyond the next few months.
The Nous Group has made four recommendations including ACT Health review the funding agreement with Arthritis ACT; ACT Health Directorate and CHS collect enough data on the users of hydrotherapy services for health maintenance purposes to assess the best alternatives for the individual; and ACT Health Directorate conduct a study of the costs and benefits and different models for the longer-term establishment of a hydrotherapy facility in the south of Canberra.
The Health Directorate will now work with Arthritis ACT to provide access to suitable clinical assessments for maintenance therapy and to determine the treatment needs of current users of the Canberra Hospital pool.
The Directorate will also continue working with Arthritis ACT on access to suitable hydrotherapy treatment and alternative facilities, as part of considering longer-term hydrotherapy service arrangements in the south of Canberra.
While this work is under way, the current Arthritis ACT hydrotherapy pool user agreement will remain in place ensuring continuity of access for pool users.
Minister Stephen-Smith said the Government was committed to continuing to work with Arthritis ACT.
“The Government recognise the closure of the pool at Canberra Hospital represents the end of an era for people who have used this facility for a long period of time,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“We have been engaging with the community, and whilst work is ongoing and these matters are not yet fully resolved, we have an ongoing commitment to working together.
“Today’s meeting with Arthritis ACT and its members has been about starting the next phase of work to ensure that their needs can be met.”
Ms Stephen-Smith will provide a further update on the work that is underway in the ACT Legislative Assembly later this month.