Grant lost as physio pool work stalls

Instructor Sharon Teavae leads an Aquarobics class at the Physio Pool, Dunedin. Photo: ODT.
Instructor Sharon Teavae leads an Aquarobics class at the Physio Pool, Dunedin. Photo: ODT.
A $120,000 grant has been pulled from the Dunedin physiotherapy pool upgrade because no-one yet knows when — or even if — it will happen.

And the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust has confirmed a second grant, of $100,000, is subject to an extension review and a decision is awaited.

Pool trust secretary-treasurer Neville Martin declined to name the organisations, saying they were complying with their rules around time limits for community grants.

Mr Martin hopes to know more by June, when the Ministry of Health is expected to release a shortlist of site options for the $300 million Dunedin Hospital rebuild. He confirmed the pool trust was not privy to a "long-list" of options which was drawn up recently and not publicly released.

"If the shortlist is favourable for the pool, the trust and the SDHB may be able to recommence negotiations for a long-term lease," he said.

The upgrade was expected to reduce the pool’s running costs.

"The trustees have not yet been able to achieve the savings which an upgrade of the pool would have delivered.

"To avoid closure of the pool by the Southern District Health Board, the trust has been required to cover all operating costs since the beginning of 2015.

"Therefore, for the pool to remain open to the public the trustees are forced to utilise the reserve fund for operating costs and will have to continue fundraising," Mr Martin said.

The health board repainted the changing rooms and pool-side floors during the Christmas holiday, he said. At its peak, the fundraising tally was $1.2million, of which $1million was for the upgrade, and $200,000 for running costs.

The pool upgrade was supposed to happen a year ago this month. It was halted at short notice by government  officials who wanted to keep the options as open as possible for the rebuild. It was unclear why the problem was not signalled earlier, given the redevelopment had at that time been in the offing for a significant length of time.

The pool is housed in the Fraser building, and that block is expected to be carefully considered for the rebuild. The outcome might depend on what the ministry decides to do with the main ward block of the hospital.


The DHB and MOH have consistently found excuses to stall this project. They have wanted rid of it for years and finally managed it , but then the trust threw a spanner in the works by having the nerve to actually raise the funds . As the work was about to start the DHB "suddenly" realised they needed the MOH's permission to sigh a 10-year lease , which then conveniently was denied due to possible planning issues (despite us being told any rebuild was at least 10 years away). Also the hospital is opposing the upgrade in the buildings Historic Places rating. We can only conclude that what the DHB has said publicly has just been to placate the masses while they actually undermine the pool with an aim to get rid of it . Especially when we were told they couldn't afford the 100k a year running costs for a facility that gets over 40,000 uses a year, but just weeks after handing it to the trust 1 person (the CEO) gets a 70k payrise. At 100k a year this pool is probably the most cost-effective thing the DHB had when you consider the amount of rehab that is started far sooner in pool than out of it (my stroke one example as I could do a lot of exercises there that I couldn't otherwise).

Another massive saving comes from preventative exercising by people seeking to prevent conditions getting worse or just making them manageable. Add to this the savings in staff costs as most people do it without assistance (or with minimal assistance from the likes of CCS) , where otherwise they would quite likely require a physio supervised session out of the pool and be more prone to having falls , relapses , injuries etc that would require hospital time.
That is even before taking into consideration faster recovery times allowing people to get back to work faster, or maintain a condition at suitable levels so people can still work and/or lead quality productive lives instead of costing more money in benefits and healthcare.
Why is the DHB and MOH determined to kill this cost-effective health resource and impose even greater strains on their other resources one has to wonder?



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