Dismayed pool users are vowing to fight the closure of
Dunedin's physio pool.
The Southern District Health Board says the pool will close
in December because it is too expensive to run, and it needs
an upgrade costing up to $1 million.
Built in 1946, the Otago Therapeutic Pool has a category two
listing with Heritage New Zealand (formerly New Zealand
Historic Places Trust).
The health board contributes about $100,000 each year to its
running costs, which is about the same as the pool's annual
The board uses the pool for its own physio patients, while
the facility is operated for the public by the Otago
Therapeutic Pool Trust.
Pool trust secretary-treasurer Neville Martin said the trust
would appeal to health board members to save the pool on the
basis of the wide health and amenity benefits it provides to
Running costs were about $150,000 a year.
''The nub of the problem is who's going to pay [the] $100,000
[shortfall]? If the board isn't then who is?''
The required upgrade should be considered as a separate
issue, Mr Martin said, and could be completed in stages over
a period of up to 10 years.
The pool was used by more than 20 organisations and received
up to 40,000 visits each year from members of the public. It
is heated to about 35degC.
The trust would also liaise with the Dunedin City Council
over possible solutions.
In a joint statement, Dunedin physiotherapists Mark Shirley
and Andrea Mosley said the pool was an accessible and
non-threatening environment for people with disabilities to
pursue their rehabilitation.
''The therapeutic pool has been instrumental in assisting
individuals to recover the ability to walk and move [after an
''It is a key Dunedin health facility and an important part
of the rehabilitation facilities that are required in the
Otago Phoenix Club president John Roxborogh said it would be
''tragic'' to lose the pool, and while he appreciated the
board was in financial difficulties, the decision seemed
The club supports people who have suffered heart problems.
Health board patient services director Lexie O'Shea said the
pool was ''well beyond'' its economic life.
The board's internal physio service used the pool for 10
hours a week, and an alternative treatment plan would be
arranged for those patients.
The health board postponed annual maintenance over the past
Christmas-New Year period because it was concerned the work
would cause structural problems.
Yearly maintenance could not be deferred again, and the board
was unable to spend money upgrading the building.
Nor could it afford the ongoing running cost, she said.
Swimmers spoken to at the pool were outraged by the decision.
Swimmer Bev Allan said the physio pool was a Dunedin
institution, and a haven for those who liked its relative
''Nobody stares at you here,'' she said.
Swimmer Donna Watson believed the facility was unique in New
The public needed to get behind the fight to save the pool,
in the manner it did to save the neurosurgery service in
2010, she believed.
CCS Disability Action southern regional manager Joy Gunn said
the physio pool was an important facility for disabled
Closing the pool would affect naturalist group Orchard Sun
Club ''quite severely'', vice-president Joyce Mullen said.
Visits to the pool twice a month were used to recruit new
members by giving them a chance to take part to see if they
wanted to join.
Mrs Mullen said the city was run by ''shortsighted'' people
who were not considering Dunedin's long-term potential.
Age Concern Otago executive officer Susan Davidson was
disappointed to hear the pool was closing.
The pool was greatly valued by users for its warmth and
central city location.
Many older people found Moana Pool ''too cold'', and they
gained benefit for conditions such as arthritis from the
South Dunedin Lions Club secretary Dick Anderson said the
move was yet another example of cost-cutting by the health
The club had a historic association with the pool trust and
would be keen to do what it could to keep it open.
On its website, Heritage New Zealand says the pool was the
first purpose-built pool for the rehabilitative treatment of
patients in New Zealand.
The pool represented developments towards more intensive
exercise-based rehabilitative medicine in the mid-20th
It was one of the earliest examples of portal frame
reinforced concrete construction, the website said.