Liberal MLA Giulia Jones has launched a petition in a bid to prevent the looming closure of the Canberra Hospital hydrotherapy pool.
With the opening of the new facility at the University of Canberra Hospital at Bruce, the ACT Government has slated the pool for closure in June.
But users on the south side say travelling to Bruce is a difficult proposition, especially for those with mobility issues.
They also say it is not heated to the correct temperature of 34 degrees Celsius and is not as accessible as the one at the Canberra Hospital.
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The Canberra Liberals say the Government had said that the pool would not close until June 2020, when a new hydrotherapy pool at the Stromlo Leisure Centre was opened.
“The ACT Labor-Greens Government promised on multiple occasions that a suitable replacement would be built at the Stromlo Leisure Centre. Now, the Government has broken this promise, telling south side residents to go to the UC hydrotherapy pool in Belconnen, which does not have the same size or heating requirements,” Ms Jones said.
“The pool isn’t falling apart. I am calling on the Government to hold off closing the pool until they have an appropriate alternative for people.”
Hydrotherapy pool user Joan Keith says she can’t walk a block without stopping to puff but in the hydrotherapy pool she can walk for an hour.
“I would give myself probably a month before I have to go on to a walking frame,” she said.
Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris has said that a new state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool at the UC Hospital will better meet the needs of the ACT community.
“The new hydrotherapy pool at UCH will feature enhanced access compared to the current facility at Canberra Hospital. It has a smoother entry for wheelchair and ambulatory access, flat surrounding surface and hoist, less maintenance downtime and more accurate and stable temperature controls,” she said last year.
Ms Fitzharris said bringing all of ACT Health’s rehabilitation staff and facilities together in the one place would result in better outcomes for patients.
“Patients will be able to access the hydrotherapy pool, gym and purpose-built therapy courtyards within the same facility. Moving rehabilitation services into the one health facility provides the opportunity to streamline appointments and will save Canberrans from having to travel to various locations across the ACT to access these services,” she said.
She said the Government was working to ensure good access to services, such as public transport, to support those who would be using the new hospital.
“ACT Health is also working with community organisations and service providers who currently use facilities at Canberra Hospital to ensure the transition of these services for their clients is as seamless as possible,” Ms Fitzharris said.
The new pool would be available for therapeutic use out-of-hours by non-ACT Health services and paediatric services, in the same way the as the pool at Canberra Hospital.
Referrals to the new pool can be made by ACT Health clinical staff, physiotherapists, general practitioners, medical practitioners and the UCH intake team.
Comment was sought from the Government.