Physio pool to be closed

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 operating shortfall.

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 the city.

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 injury].

''It is a key Dunedin health facility and an important part of the rehabilitation facilities that are required in the Otago area.''

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 ''shortsighted''.

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 privacy.

''Nobody stares at you here,'' she said.

Swimmer Donna Watson believed the facility was unique in New Zealand.

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 people.

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 physio pool.

South Dunedin Lions Club secretary Dick Anderson said the move was yet another example of cost-cutting by the health board.

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 century.

It was one of the earliest examples of portal frame reinforced concrete construction, the website said.

Facebook group

A Facebook group has been started to save the physio pool 

A challenge for Richard

In answer to IWAS, you only need to look in on Question Time in Parliament to see what is going wrong.  The people that are creaming it big time are those represented by the smug and smirking front row of Key, English, Ryall, Brownlee and Joyce to name a few.  Sometime the little cockerel that lives in Dunedin pokes his head inbetween the front row.  But the alternative doesn't look so hot either.  Nonetheless, the people that are making lots of money are the big industrialists, the CEO's of the banks and other financial institutions, and the National mates in Sky City.  No doubt that the poorer in NZ are paying for the gains of the already well-off and much of it is also achieved by way of pollution supported by slack legislation.  Where does a physio pool fit into this.  Forget it.  And people like Richard Thomson really have no interest or expertise to change things.  Look at his record of holding people accountable for excessive spending in his other role of City Councillor.  He says, if you want it, then pay for it.  Well, I'll gladly arrange a meeting between him and the ORFU and the Highlanders so he can tell them that as well.

For sure

Lynden: According to this morning's ODT, council is going to consider it. But no doubt you have already read that by now.


I don't get it. We have more "educated" people flooding the country and we are selling more meat, diary and seafood to countries like China. So much so that we are polluting our streams, land and coastlines. Our tourism industry is booming with millions coming in and spending huge amounts of money.  As a matter of fact, I suspect we have never exported as much as each following year and as each year goes by we keep raising the bar. We are constantly being told how good things are in NZ. Really? So where are things going wrong? What about the trickle down effect? Where is all the money going? We cant even keep a physio pool open. $100,000 is like what we lose in an afternoon at the stadium and that is taken in a "ho-hum just another day" sort of way. Yet alll I see is more and more public services being cut and more poor people begging on the street. Dunedin was pretty grim back in the 80's but at least we cared for our citizens. People have become so greedy and cold towards each other and the poor of this country are getting it taken out on them.

How do we keep it open?

I agree with speedfreak43, but how do we raise the million dollars to really bring it up to scratch and keep it going at $150,000 per year?

Where are the donors?  Sponsorship.  Perhaps we could do a deal with Phillip Morris, Cadburys or a coffee company.

There definitely needs to be a protest march down the main street. No point in having a neurology department if your dont have the maintenance facilities to keep the patients healthy.


Not the council

Speedfreak: It is not the council's responsibilty to enure this facility stays open. Healthcare is funded by taxes, not rates, and thus falls directly on central government's shoulders. If the council was to fund this it would be yet another case on an item which should funded by tax that this government foists onto local government so they can fire tax cuts to their mates or fund boat races or gift smelters to stay open an extra year.

This is yet another case of an anti-stadium brigade member trying to link a subject that is in no way related at all.

Blame this on the underfunding our DHB consistantly gets from so called population based funding and the same govt that intends to debt fund an upgrade/rebuild of our hospital and force the DHB to pay the interest of $20m per year without additional funding yet just sold recieved $4.5 billion for selling assets (that almost no one wanted sold) on the premise that this is the exact sort of project it was meant to be for.

The pool ugrade should be included in the greater hospital upgrade/rebuild plans. 

Save of the day

Am I the only one who can see the fact that the pool is closing as the SDHB have been told to save $20 million or the new build or refurb wont happen by the National Goverment? The pool is closing for no other reason than that. I am sick of National running down all and sundry bar Christchurch and Auckland and if they get in again the country will be all privately owned and gone for good. Maggie Thatcher did the same after 3 terms - watch and see history replay over here. Sad times ahead. And no I am not political, nor do I favour a particular party I just can see where this is heading.

The alternative

Simone: As I outlined below I had a similar experience.

Readers may be familiar of that movie staple, someone taking their first steps after an operation on the parallel bars with a couple of medical people there to catch them when the fall - well, the pool is there to catch you. I didn't need expensive medical help to work through this, just a physio to give me an exercise plan so I could go down, stagger in on my crutches, and do some self directed exercises for a couple of hours in the pool with instructions from seeing a physio once a week.

So if the DHB gets rid of the pool they'll essentially have to replace it with a whole bunch of parallel bars and people to catch you.

Pool closure

This is shocking!  I used the pool extensively for 3 years after major reconstructive surgery to my leg.  It would be a lame leg now if it hadn't have been for the use of this pool and at the time I was too sick to be able to get to Moana, just not the facilities.  Am now back at both my own businesses, both of which is fully demanding physically and have full use of leg.   Would probably be relying on the taxpayers' dollar to keep me going if I hadnt been able to use this pool.  And would be unable to now be paying rates on two houses and two sections.  Honestly. this is so shortsighted.   


No sexism

Sorry Kris, but as a user for almost a year now there would have to be a fairly even mix of the sexes. Ageism might be more appropriate as most seem to be older but with a sprinkling of the younger members, but this is to expected the way injuries and health problems affect us as we age.

If it closes for good...

If it ends up closed for good then maybe we could pin this on rugby, QsRC. After all, if council had not got into millions of dollars of debt, for rugby, perhaps they would be in a position to ensure that it remaimed open.

And likely, these overpaid sports people were bludging the use of the facility, just like they currently do at the stadium. 

Land of plenty for who?

More National government improvements to Dunedin's health services. Must be all happening elsewhere - here it's close it down or cut it. Woodhouse, the local government MP, stands by and has nothing to say. No surprises there. 

Physio pool

Rugby players do use it frequently actually. I've also seen the Otago Volts cricketers doing rehab in there too. Just saying, dont think you can pin this one on rugby. 

Forever in our debt

Let us not also forget to give Michael Swann a big thank you for his contribution to the ongoing maintenace of health facilities with the ODHB. He is forever in our debt.

No vision

It is so interesting to watch the self-interest in this town. It's a facility used by many older women, but if the rugby players were using it I am sure someone would find the $150,000 to keep it running. This is a town with no vision, topped of with a creme of sexism. 

Last one out...

..please turn off the lights - at the stadium too.

Penny-pinching the wrong way

 is shocking, and it's probably not a coincidence that this idea has reared it's ugly head again just after the underfunded DHB has had to find money for operating theatre repairs. $100,000 is relatively trival to a health board with a budget of hundreds of millions. it will cost the board more in longer recoveries, more hospital bed days due to falls etc, more physio time, more in medications, more in benefits and so on . It will cost the economy more in lost productivity.
I'm a current pool user recoving from a stroke , and due to the pool sessions and a research programme at the School of Physiotherapy I have shaved about a year off my projected recovery time. The pool has provided a enviroment to do certain excercises that I could not do out of water and the two programmes I find complement each other perfectly.
It would be used even more if the govt lifted the Winz disability allowance of $69 per week. I'm not a high users by any means but just my doctors fees and medications add up to an average of $35-$45 dollars a week. I know of several people who would love to do more than one session a week but simply can't afford to resulting in even longer dependance on the system.
This isn't the pool's fault, and despite questionable spending priorities it's not even the DHB's fault. It is symptomatic of the chronic underfunding of the SDHB at government level. After all, didn't they just sell $4.5 billion of assets to pay for, among other things, building/upgrading hospitals and faciliites? Yet they want to debt fund a rebuild of the country's main teaching hospital (and the only major hospital not to have been overhauled) and force an already struggling Board to find an extra $20 million per year to pay the interest fees.
And be careful, the Trust that runs the pool in an effort to keep it going will be forced to go to the council either for funding or modifications to a City Pool. Either way it will be another case of your rates paying for something your taxes should be. [Abridged]


Tax more.

No, seriously. I would take an increase in tax to fund this upgrade and ongoing costs. Unlike Hillside it is not meant to be profitable, and unlike AgResearch it is an important medical facility. This is exactly the sort of thing that should be subsidised.

Public-Private Partnerships?

Why are the decision-makers not using Public-Private Partnerships to keep this pool operational? With key partners being university (who use the hospital), the DCC, ratepayers(at $1-$2 each ) and other stakeholders. This way Dunedin can find what is a relative deficeit for a facility. The benefits will outweigh the negative impacts (more sick people, poor health overall, loss of opportunity and quality of life, less rehab) being the cost of the losses that will be significant over time. The pool provides major benefits for myriad of important uses and users that Moana Pool cannot. It is astounding that closure is even considered. There is always money to bail out the stadium or a new university wing. What is wrong with valuing a health physio pool that so many use? As an ex-Dunedin family tossing up whether to return to live in Dunedin, this proposed closure signals erosion and does not compel us to return. The idea to close the physio pool has not been thought through. Actually, you need to invest in your hospital full stop. This is an important drawcard and the current one is so old and run-down. Is there an agenda here? Is this the beginning of a slow decline? Pay attention, lobby decision-makers to get smart and be accountable, and be aware if Dunedin is to stay alive. It is a special place but some bad decisions are being made.


National Govt running down regional health services

I am amazed anyone outside of Auckland wll be voting for National this election.  They have shown only one intent in regards to regions outside of Auckland, and to a slightly lesser extent Christchurch. Everywhere else is considered a last priority.

When will people wake up?  Maybe when they or a close family member try and receive medical care that they could have received before National took power, but they no longer can.

Very sad.  But can the people of Dunedin, with the ODT's help, raise money to save the Physio Pool like we did with the neurological services?


Short-sighted bean counters

Where were these short-sighted bean counters when the FSB stadium was built? It seems they only come out when there is something that clearly benefits those most in need. Perhaps a few of the hospital managers could take a pay cut, or the DCC could fund it instead of subsidising professional rugby.

These cuts never save us, the taxpayers, money. They just end up in the pocket of some bean counter or manager as a bonus for getting under budget.

No wonder there is a general dislike for any sort of leaders in this country.

Quick, save money

More of the right wing cost-cutting madness in action. I cannot believe the nature of the continuing attacks on the people of Dunedin. The loss of Hillside and the jobs that could have been if we had been given the contract for the rail upgrade (wagons) and the loss of the Invermay research institute are just examples of what is looking more and more like a war on the regions. The mantra of the current Government seemsto be making it harder to people to live here and killing jobs. We are losing this pool to pay for tax cuts for the well-off. These tax cuts years ago continue to leave a huge hole in the government's books - that’s why there is no money in the present system to fund valuable health infrastructure like this. If I was rich I could use the extra money from said tax cuts to turn up the temperature on my spa pool rather than use some dirty public facility.

- Highly disappointed pool user.


Crazy idea

This is a crazy idea - personally I credit use of the pool as part of good physio with getting me up and moving after a debilitating injury and the resulting operation. The pool is somewhere where one who cannot walk can take those first steps buoyed by the water and learn to walk again, then slowly add weight to your exercise by moving to the shallow end. The warmth of the pool is important to those who can't move enough to keep warm.

Without being able to go to the pool (and happily paying to enter) daily for 3 months I would have been out of action for years rather than months.

Most afternoons there are 30-40 people there each with a different injury, people with spinal injuries gently stretching their backs just by floating, people who have muscle loss from long bed rest being able to support themselves and start to move, people with brain injuries learning to use their limbs again, people doing exercises for more kinds off injuries than you can possibly imagine - and of course lots of normal people just doing some exercise.

What sort of rehabilitation does the hospital board plan to provide to replace the pool? Whatever they do, even if it's nothing, it's likely going to end up costing them more. So why not up the entrance fee to all users by $3 a visit? With 40,000 visits a year that would cover the missing $100,000.

Physio Pool

Perhaps the Dunedin City Council could front up with some dosh. Mayor Cull's leg irons for camels would, I'm sure, raise a goodly amount if auctioned. Perhaps Michael Swann could lead a rescue operation, as he has had a huge amount of help from the hospital board in the past.

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