Contamination closes hospital's therapy pool

PUBLISHED: 14:08 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 06 May 2010

A HYDROTHERAPY pool which helps relieve the pain of arthritis sufferers and physiotherapy patients has been closed due to contamination. The facility at St Albans City Hospital is used for post-operative care and exercise treatments during the day but it

A HYDROTHERAPY pool which helps relieve the pain of arthritis sufferers and physiotherapy patients has been closed due to contamination.

The facility at St Albans City Hospital is used for post-operative care and exercise treatments during the day but it has now been closed for three weeks because of a bacterium called Pseudomonas.

Mike McInnerny, aged 64, started using the highly-heated pool after an accident triggered arthritis in his knees and although only six sessions were available on the NHS, he has continued to pay £5 for a session a week.

Mr McInnerny, from Wynches Farm Drive in St Albans, uses the pool on Wednesday evenings under the direction of a physiotherapist and over the past 18 months it has become vital to his treatment.

But recently he has been unable to use the facility along with some 25 other people who rely on the service for pain relief and exercise.

Mr McInnerny believes that the problems started when West Herts Primary Care Trust (PCT) contracted Carillion to take over the maintenance of the pool at the beginning of April.

Firstly the pool was only open for two Wednesday sessions in five weeks because tests showed the ph levels were too low and Mr McInnerny said it was an uphill struggle to contact the PCT to discuss the problems.

Upon contacting Carillion directly the problems were rectified for two weeks but then he was amazed to discover three weeks ago that the pool would be out of action for at least five weeks due to contamination problems.

He said some people were crippled with arthritis and lived for the Wednesday evening sessions because it did them so much good.

While the pool is closed, Mr McInnerny is travelling to a public swimming pool which is much colder, has no physiotherapist and is full of people trying to swim lengths rather than carrying out the same exercises as him.

He pointed out that some people were not as mobile as him and might risk their joints seizing up further without the exercise sessions.

A spokesperson for the West Herts PCT said a very small amount of pseudomonas was discovered during a routine inspection and the pool was closed as a precaution.

She said: "The pool has now been drained and a thorough clean down of the pool and all its equipment is underway. The pool will now undergo a series of tests to ensure the water quality is as it should be before it is reopened. The PCT anticipate that the pool will be closed for up to five weeks."

"We are sorry for the inconvenience this temporary closure of the pool will have on our physiotherapy patients. We take infection control very seriously and our quick response to this issue shows our commitment to delivering the best and safest health care to all our users."

She emphasised that pseudomonas rarely caused infections in healthy people and was more likely to infect those already very ill.

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