A Peterborough GP has revealed details of his plans to open a new £2 million hydrotherapy pool in the city - a week after the council confirmed the city’s current pool would be mothballed.
Dr Neil Modha’s plans were being worked on before Peterborough City Council pulled out of discussions to sell the St George’s Hydrotherapy pool, confirming the facility would remain closed.
The plans, revealed exclusively to The Peterborough Telegraph, would see a new three story facility built at the Thistlemoor Medical Centre on Lincoln Road, offering both land based physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.
Dr Modha said: “We are looking at a facility with a pool that would be in keeping with the size of St George’s.
“It would be a community-based facility, big enough for group sessions.
“It would be brand new, specifically made for this site.
“I know there have been some accessibility issues at St George’s, with the level of the pool - this would be fully accessible for people with mobility issues, with all the correct hoists in place.
“It will be a purpose built facility, specifically for helping people with mobility issues. When you start from scratch, it is easier to get a state of the art site than if you are upgrading an existing site.
“We are investing in one of the most deprived areas of the city, in the city centre.
“We will also have land based physiotherapy available at the site, so it can be a proper rehabilitation centre. The people who use land based physio could be the same as those who use the hydrotherapy pool, but it could also be for others, who maybe have a back problem, for example.”
Dr Modha has not yet submitted a planning application for the site, but said proposals had changed as a result of consulting with users - and the consultation process would continue.
He said; “We are working hand in hand with the council, and with the St George’s users group to make sure we get it right.
“We are thinking about how it could benefit the NHS as well. We want it to be a well used facility. This will be a community asset. We want to make it as affordable as possible. It won’t be free, but the current one is not either.
“The message we have had from people so far is to make it bigger than we originally thought.
“We are hoping to get the planning application in by the end of the month, and then if everything goes well, for a three storey building like we are planning, we think it would be about a year to get finished and open. We think it will cost about £2 million at the moment.”
Dr Modha admitted he had not known much about hydrotherapy services before last year, when his 70-year-old father, Jitendra Modha, suffered a stroke. Jitendra has had to travel to Luton and Bedford to use hydrotherapy services since having his stroke.
He said: “I didn’t realise how effective hydrotherapy could be until my dad had a stroke, but it makes so much sense now. If someone has had a stroke, for example, being able to do things in water takes away so much pressure on their joints, and gives them so much more confidence.
“He can’t swim, so he is not like a fish to water, but using hydrotherapy has given him so much more confidence. He’s gone from shuffling about with a zimmer frame to walking confidently with one stick.”
Council leader Wayne Fitzgerald welcomed the plans - but admitted communication around the decision to pull the plug on the sale of St George’s had not been good enough.
He said; “I was surprised by the way the news came out, and I know it would cause unnecessary upset and concern, and I have apologised for that as leader, but it was not my decision. The communication was appalling and should never have happened that way.
“There are many things the council cannot do at the moment, with the finances. The sale of the site would be for £105,000, and the council officers say we would need to spend £100,000 on it before the sale, leaving a profit of £5,000.
“I will be having a word with Ranjith (Mahamani, who was in discussions to buy the pool) about what has happened.”
Mr Mahamani has disputed the council’s claims about the authority needing to spend £100,000 on the pool - saying there had been an agreement they would only need to spend £40,000.