In November 2016, Royal Berkshire Hospital announced the plan to close its hydrotherapy pool in March 2017. This plan was strongly opposed by many local charities and groups that regularly make use of the pool, including Reading Fibromyalgia Support Group, Reading Families’ Forum, REACH Wokingham, Arthritis Matters and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. Working with these charities, Alok set up a stakeholder group to oppose the closure of the pool.
Achievements to date:
- Alok met with Mary Sherry, acting Chief Executive of Royal Berkshire Hospital, in December 2016 to discuss the matter and gain a fuller understanding of the decision process relating to the planned closure.
- Alok set up a stakeholder group of representatives, including the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Arthritis Matters, REACH Wokingham, Reading Families' Forum, and the Reading Fibromyalgia Support Group. The group met with Steve McManus, the new Chief Executive of Royal Berkshire Hospital, in January 2017. Following this meeting, Mr McManus acknowledged the benefits of hydrotherapy pools and issued an apology on behalf of the hospital to the campaigners involved for negative statements made by hospital representatives.
- Alok and the stakeholder group continued to regularly meet with Steve McManus. As a result of these meetings, in January 2017 the hospital announced that it would defer the closure of the hydrotherapy pool until the end of June 2017, in order to discuss the matter further and take into consideration the stakeholder views.
- At a meeting in March 2017, the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust committed to the continuation of the hydrotherapy facility, whether this be at the Royal Berkshire Hospital or through alternative facilities off-site.
Alok will continue to work with the stakeholders group, the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, local Clinical Commissioning Groups and other partners to find a long-term alternative solution for a hydrotherapy facility that supports both the needs of the users and the Royal Berkshire Hospitals’ clinical strategy.
"I am pleased that the hydrotherapy facility will continue at the Royal Berkshire Hospital or until an acceptable site can be found for its re-provision in the Reading area. I am grateful to the campaign group and Steve and his team, for the co-operative way in which we have worked so far. We now need to work on a longer term plan to ensure a local hydrotherapy service is available permanently for all patients who need it."
- Hydrotherapy facility to remain open for immediate future
- The hydrotherapy pool at the Royal Berkshire Hospital is set to remain open for the immediate future following a public backlash
- Hydrotherapy services run by the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust will no longer close in June
- Hydrotherapy pool to remain open in Reading
- Royal Berkshire Hospital hydrotherapy pool will stay open for an extra three months
Since the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust announced its plans to close the hydrotherapy facilities at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, the Trust initially delayed the original planned closure from the end of March 2017 to the end of June 2017, in order to take further account of stakeholder views.
On Friday 20 January, Reading West MP Alok Sharma joined forces with his predecessor Martin Salter, who is Patron of the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre, and other campaigners fighting to save the hydrotherapy pool at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, at a meeting with new hospital Chief Executive Steve McManus.
Reading West MP Alok Sharma has been working since November with local campaigners, including the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Arthritis Matters, REACH Wokingham, Reading Families' Forum, and the Reading Fibromyalgia Support Group, to get Royal Berkshire Hospital to reverse its decision to close the hydrotherapy pool at the hospital.