Peterborough hydrotherapy pool users have made a desperate plea to the city council to reconsider ‘mothballing’ the hydrotherapy pool - describing the news the site would be shut as devastating.
The Peterborough Telegraph exclusively revealed the city council sent a letter to councillors this week telling them a potential sale of the St George’s pool in Dogsthorpe had been scrapped, and the pool would be ‘mothballed.’
Physiotherapist Ranjith Mahamani has told the Peterborough Telegraph he expected the sale to go through at the end of this month, and he had put finances in place to refurbish the pool, and even hired staff to work there - and the news the council had pulled out of the deal had come ‘out of the blue.’
The nearest hydrotherapy pool to the city is now in Cambridge - and although leader of the council Wayne Fitzgerald said a city doctor was proposing to build a new pool, a planning application has not been submitted yet.
Now users of the pool have made a plea for the site to be saved, with many saying they were looking forward to the pool re-opening, before the ‘shocking’ announcement was made.
Sue Tams, who has chronic osteoarthritis which affects her mobility,has used the pool for a decade - and even volunteered working on the front desk. She said; “I find it hard to exercise other than being in warm water. So St George’s has given lots of pain relief over the past decade and kept me mobile.
“When I retired from Cambridgeshire Constabulary, I found it hard to settle into retirement. Then I was asked if I would consider being a volunteer for the hydrotherapy pool front desk. I took the offer and did not look back. I found it rewarding and also very good for my mental health. During Lockdown I found it hard but kept looking forward to the pool reopening.
“When I heard that it was going to be taken on by a private medical person I was looking forward to a new start for the pool. Then came the devastating news it was not to re-open. The council has let thousands of people down who relied on hydrotherapy that was a lot more disabled than me.”
One anonymous user said using the pool was ‘the best thing I could have done’ after she injured her back in 2009, leaving her needing a zimmer frame aged 45.
She said; “Land based physiotherapy was terribly painful and practically impossible. I was completely reliant on very strong painkillers, constantly going backwards and forwards to my GP, and had depression. Thankfully on one of my trips to the GP I saw a leaflet about St George’s – at this point I would try anything.
“Well it was the best thing I could have done!”
She added: “Within a few weeks of using the pool I was able to build the strength in my back and legs, my dependance on strong painkillers reduced and I no longer had to keep visiting my GP – I was no longer costing the health service money. Then I realised that through meeting others in a similar position ,chatting and supporting each other, my depression had lifted.
“I’ve seen mums with babes in arms, children and adults with complex disabilities, people recovering from strokes, sports injuries, people with complex conditions , the list can go on – all doing their best to improve their own health and wellbeing, to keep independent and remain a part of the community. Some people’s visits were the only time they left their house and had a conversation, and we all know what social isolation can do to our mental health.
“I beg Wayne Fitzgerald to reconsider ‘mothballing’ the pool – please let the sale to Ranjith, a physiotherapist who can deliver on the service so needed by so many in Peterborough, happen.”
Jane Thompson, who has used the pool for many years said she feared what would happen to hydrotherapy services in the city going forward.
She said; “I began using the pool soon after it opened to the community as a self referral for chronic fatigue. It was a great help for muscle strength and pain relief.
“I understood that the pool was to be sold to a private physiotherapist who would provide times for community use.
“My fear is that there will be no community hydrotherapy available and many vulnerable pool users will suffer as a consequence. It has been proven that use of the pool improves conditions , self management and wellbeing- ultimately saving the council money for social care.”