A press release from NHS Highland:
"A meeting took place with representatives from NHS Highland, Nairn Hydrotherapy Trust and Arthritis Care’s Nairn Branch on Wednesday of this week to build on the momentum generated by the interest of local people in Nairn concerning their loss of access to the hydrotherapy pool.
Discussions have started which aim to identify possible alternatives to the withdrawal of some NHS financial support for the hydrotherapy service.
Proposal are being worked on which would meet the objectives of each of the partner organisations, as well as maximising the health benefits of hydrotherapy for people living in the area, with a particular focus on the 20% of the population living with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.
In June, NHS Highland confirmed that they had reviewed the £45,000 annual contract to the Trust and indicated the need to make some changes. The board received a petition with more than 1,300 signatures asking for the contract to be continued. The partners have now agreed that a strong business model needs to be developed to ensure the future availability of the pool for the community.
And discussions on finding a way forward were described as ‘very positive’ by Captain McGregor, Chairman of the Hydrotherapy Trust. He said: “We had a very positive meeting on Wednesday afternoon with representatives from NHS Highland and Arthritis Care Scotland.
“We agreed how we can all work together to ensure a lasting solution for the pool. We do understand NHS Highland’s perspective and respect that but they also know how passionate we are about securing a future for the pool. I am now very confident we can do this”.
On behalf of the local branch of Arthritis Care Rev Stephen Manders described the past 24 hours as bringing ‘an outbreak of common sense’, adding:”This is all about coming up with the best solution and to do that we all need to work together. I have seen that willingness from all partners.
“Now we need to sit round the table and agree the range of therapeutic interventions and how to fund them. Nobody is talking about reducing funding for services in the area but using some funding differently.
“This will include what support Arthritis Care’s Nairn Branch can contribute to ensuring people with arthritis living in the area continue to receive access to this very valuable therapy.”
Jean-Pierre Sieczkarek, NHS Highland’s Area Manager, who covers Nairn, commented: “We had a really good discussion on Wednesday about the value of the hydropool, as well as creating other options.
“I think we have got to a position that everyone understands it’s not an either or situation but need to strike the right balance of therapies. NHS Highland will support an Advisory Group to work with the Trustees on referral pathways, access to the pool and a fee structure.
“The referral pathway will include GPs, Physiotherapists and representatives of the Hydro pool. The contribution of Rev Stephen Manders and Arthritis Care Scotland will be invaluable because it will help us arrive at, what I believe, will be an overall better solution for the future.”
Angela Donaldson-Bruce, Arthritis Care’s Scotland Director said: “We are delighted to be able to support the aspirations of our Nairn Branch to keep what is seen as a vital local service for people with arthritis in Nairn, particularly as keeping people active and supporting them to live well with their condition is one of our key objectives.”
It was confirmed that there will be a follow up meeting in the near future."