Division is growing over the decision to close The Canberra Hospital hydrotherapy pool.
The ACT Government has announced the pool will close when the University of Canberra Rehabilitation Hospital opens later this month.
The new hospital includes a new, state of the art hydrotherapy pool.
But Arthritis ACT has strengthened its opposition to the closure of The Canberra Hospital pool, saying there are few other southside options.
CEO Rebecca Davey said many elderly clients use the pool five days a week, keeping them mobile and reducing the amount of pain relief they need to take.
"This is not just a case of ‘we don’t like change’, it is actually a case of people simply won’t be able to get to the other side of town," Ms Davey said.
"I have spoken to the Health Minister’s office, but I’m told there is no appetite to operate two hydrotherapy pools, and if people can’t get to sessions themselves, they should just use the flexibus system.
"The problem is our pool sessions are out of business hours, because this is when the pool is available for us to utilise.
"The flexibus does not operate out of hours. I also have clients who physically could not get on the bus due to their pain conditions, and yet these are the people who need the hydrotherapy the most."
She said she reviewed the hydrotherapy pools available on the southside to attempt to find a solution for those who will find it hard to travel.
"Most of the pools on the southside are too cool – for a hydrotherapy pool to provide pain relief, it needs to be at a temperature of at least 33 degrees Celsius," Ms Davey said.
"The majority of pools are used for children’s swimming lessons and are more generally around the 30 degree mark. This in fact can cause more pain to those with various conditions as muscle groups and blood flow are affected by the cooler temperature.
"We have found one pool, and I am in talks with the owners of that pool, however the cost and availability will mean we can offer less sessions to our community, and we will have to look at what other services we reduce as an organisation to meet the largely increased cost of providing this service."
Canberra woman Helen Holzapfel, whose husband is paraplegic, said there was a big need for more hydrotherapy services in the ACT.
She said her husband was told he was only eligible for six initial sessions at the new hospital when it opens.
"It is just a really short sighted decision," Mrs Holzapfel said.
"I'd love them to put in one or two more hydro pools and run them really efficiently."
Minister for Health Meegan Fitzharris said the new hydrotherapy pool would better meet the needs of the ACT community.
“Our pool at the Canberra Hospital has served the community well, but the time has come to replace it with a modern facility at the new University of Canberra Hospital in Bruce,” Ms Fitzharris said.
“It has always been the ACT Government’s intention to fully transition all rehabilitation services throughout Canberra to the new facility in Bruce.