Hydrotherapy services at Gilbert Hitchcock House have been temporarily closed. No consultation was carried out and Adult Services and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee was not informed.

When the above committee requested an agenda item Mr Rick Watson, Deputy Director – Integrated Medicine and Head of Therapies, Bedford Hospital in a meeting of that committee on 26th February stated that “The service had had 400 referrals in the previous year and an audit had indicated that only a minority of patients had benefited from the treatment. Also there was little evidence that supported this form of treatment.”

Mr Watson said with no evidence to support this assertion, in fact, there is a plethora of evidence to the contrary, including:

  • Benefits in “pain, function, self-efficacy and affect, joint mobility, strength, and balance, particularly among older adults, subjects with rheumatic conditions and chronic low back pain“. Full article here.
  • Improvements in problems associated with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) according to NASS, the only UK charity entirely focused on axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA)
  • “beneficial for people with arthritis in just one or in many joints. It’s sometimes used after joint replacement surgery or for people with back pain, ankylosingspondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis” according to Arthritis Research UK

Looking at the notes provided from the hospital it seems that they have no intention of reopening the facility on a permanent basis. See the full minutes on this agenda item here.

There are also a large number of patients that provide anecdotal evidence that this type of therapy aids their recovery and or quality of life (see below)

The NHS is supposed to be a whole life, comprehensive health service. Is this to be one of an increasing number of treatments that will only be available to the wealthy?