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.
The Stakeholder Group, chaired by Reading West MP Alok Sharma, and comprising patient groups and healthcare charities listed below, has been working proactively with the Trust since February. At a meeting with the Stakeholder Group held on Friday 24 March, the Trust committed to the continuation of hydrotherapy provision, whether this is on the Royal Berkshire Hospital site or through alternative facilities off the site.
Steve McManus, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “It has been hugely positive to have the support of Alok Sharma and stakeholders as we work through the continued provision of hydrotherapy facilities to patients and the public. I understand the value that users gain from this service, and I am committed to ensuring that the Trust facilitates the continued availability of hydrotherapy services in this area.”
Alok Sharma added: “I am absolutely delighted that Steve McManus, on behalf of the Trust, has confirmed that the Trust will continue to provide hydrotherapy services for patients and, also importantly, that there will be no break in service provision even if the hydrotherapy service is relocated to another site. I want to thank Steve and his team for continuing to work so cooperatively with the Stakeholder Group, all the brilliant members of the Group who have campaigned so hard and my predecessor as Reading West MP, Martin Salter, who has brought great energy and co-ordination to the campaign to save the hydrotherapy services.”
Stakeholder Group member Kim Seabrook, Chair of Arthritis Matters (Reading), said: "We are delighted with the announcement that the RBH hydrotherapy service is to continue in the Reading area and pleased that the new Chief Executive Steve McManus has listened to the concerns of patients groups about the value of hydrotherapy for people with disabilities, suffers of chronic pain conditions and those recovering from strokes and other medical symptoms. This welcome news comes as a huge relief to all of us who have battled hard and long to save this important service."
Photo: Alok Sharma MP with Stakeholder Group members Ramona Bridgman, Angie Burnish, Deborah Catherall and Julie Monahan at the Hydrotherapy Pool at RBFT