FOLLOWING a fierce public campaign hospital chief's have reversed a decision to close the town's therapeutic hydrotherapy services.

In November last year the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust announced plans to close the hydrotherapy pool at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in March, 13 years after it was opened by the Queen.

After numerous town centre protests, meetings and a petition led by users of the facility, the Trust extended the pool's life by three months.

Now a pledge has been made to keep the services going indefinitely in some form - whether at its current location or elsewhere nearby.

At a meeting last Friday Steve McManus, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “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.”

Reading Chronicle:

The pool is used by multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkison's sufferers, costs the Trust £60,000 a year and currently requires a £50,000 investment to keep running.

Reading West MP Alok Sharma, who chaired the meeting, added: “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.”

Diane Goodlock, organiser of the MS Therapy Support Group which uses the pool on Wednesday evenings, was cautiously pleased following the announcement.

“It is good news, but we don't know exactly what the plan is,” she said.

“The problem is with neuro conditions like Parkinsons and for people who have had strokes, the temperature needs to be 35 degrees or the therapy doesn't work.

“There are a couple of pools at special needs schools nearby that are 31 degrees, but that's not warm enough.

“Otherwise the closest hydro-pool is in Oxford. If users get transported all the way there, by the time they have sat in the bus and got back all the positive benefits have gone.”