Published: 23 September 2020

Legislative Council Tuesday 22 September, 2020


With regard to the North-West Regional Hospital hydrotherapy pool which was closed on 25 March due to COVID-19 and remains closed, I note that in a newspaper article dated 19 August a Tasmanian Health Service spokesman said that:

“…services would recommence at the pool once it is determined safe for patients and staff”

1 What is the reason for the delay in re-commencement of services?

2 What are the annual running costs of the pool?

3 Is the pool in need of repair and;
   3.1 If so, what is the estimated cost of repairs?

4 How many patients regularly access the pool on a weekly, monthly and annual basis?

5 What alternative clinically suitable treatment has been offered to THS patients in the interim?


1 The Government remains committed to recommissioning the pool as soon as it is possible to do so, and has ensured that alternative locations have been made available in the region to provide aquatic physiotherapy services. Work to recommission the pool in a way that it is able to meet requirements for the facility’s COVID safety plan, incorporating advice from relevant infection control team members, is continuing.

2 Annual costs are difficult to determine as major costs such as power, water and cleaning are covered within the overall operating costs of NWRH. In 2019-20, costs were significantly impacted by the closure of the pool in the final quarter of the year. Other costs (which include salaries and wages) exceeded $122 000 last year.

3 No. The Department have invested approximately $25 000 in major repairs to the pool in 2019-20. This included resealing the pool, a major upgrade to the plant room and works to remove concrete cancer from the shower and change rooms.

4 Figures of patients attending the service are not available since NWRH has recommissioned. Patients must have completed a land-based assessment with a physiotherapist prior to admission to the pool in accordance with relevant professional standards. This process takes time and has been guided by the hospital’s approved escalation levels. An audit of activity for the six week period from 11 February 2020 to 25 March 2020 indicates that a total of 10 patients were admitted for aquatic physiotherapy at NWRH. There was a total of 29 attendances during this period.

5 I am advised that there are presently two, one-hour sessions booked at SPLASH in Devonport and the same number of sessions at Burnie Aquatic Centre. Each can accommodate up to 6 patients at a time. No limits have been set to these arrangements, but I am advised that this appears to be meeting the present level of demand. Patients are not being charged fees for these sessions. Staff are presently negotiating access to additional sites which are close to patient’s homes to utilise should future demand warrant.

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