Hope rises on solution for under-threat Hydrotherapy facility

Nairn Hydrotherapy - used by many people in Moray
Nairn Hydrotherapy – used by many people in Moray

HOPE HAS RISEN over the future funding of a Highland Hydrotherapy facility that is used by many people in Moray.

Following fears expressed earlier this year that NHS Highland was withdrawing or reducing its funding for the Nairn Hydrotherapy Trust facility, Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant called on all parties to think again.

Now the result of a meeting this week involving the Trust and NHS Highland has given new hope over the future of the facility, with possible alternatives to the withdrawal of NHS financial support for the hydrotherapy service being discussed.

These have resulted in a proposal being worked on which would meet the objectives of each of the partner organisations, as well as maximising the health benefits of hydrotherapy for people living in the area – with a particular focus on the 20% of the population living with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.

In June NHS Highland confirmed that they had reviewed the £45,000 annual contract to the Trust and indicated the need to make some changes. The board received a petition with more than 1,300 signatures asking for the contract to be continued.

The partners have now agreed that a strong business model needs to be developed to ensure the future availability of the pool for the community.

And discussions on finding a way forward were described as ‘very positive’ by Captain McGregor, Chairman of the Hydrotherapy Trust, who said: “We had a very positive meeting with representatives from NHS Highland and Arthritis Care Scotland.

“We agreed how we can all work together to ensure a lasting solution for the pool. We do understand NHS Highland’s perspective and respect that but they also know how passionate we are about securing a future for the pool. I am now very confident we can do this.”

Also involved in the discussions was the local branch of Arthritis Care, Rev Stephen Manders, who said that there had been an “outbreak of common sense”: “This is all about coming up with the best solution and to do that we all need to work together.

“I have seen that willingness from all partners – now we need to sit round the table and agree the range of therapeutic interventions and how to fund them. Nobody is talking about reducing funding for services in the area but using some funding differently.

“This will include what support Arthritis Care’s Nairn Branch can contribute to ensuring people with arthritis living in the area continue to receive access to this very valuable therapy.”

NHS Highland’s area manager Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek added: “NHS Highland will support an Advisory Group to work with the Trustees on referral pathways, access to the pool and a fee structure.

“The referral pathway will include GPs, Physiotherapists and representatives of the Hydro pool. The contribution of Rev Stephen Manders and Arthritis Care Scotland will be invaluable because it will help us arrive at, what I believe, will be an overall better solution for the future.”

It was confirmed that there will be a follow up meeting in the near future.