Article published 9th August and written by Jim Levack.
All smiles: Sir Bernard Braine saw a bright future for the unit when he officially dedicated it last week.
Health chiefs have been blasted for refusing to fund a physiotherapy unit days after the official opening. Since the purpose built Canvey scheme’s launch two moths ago, Southend Health Authority has declined to pump a penny into its growth. The new Thompson Unit’s chairman George Mayne hit out at the lack of foresight after the dedication ceremony by Castle Point MP Sir Bernard Braine. The authority had shown no commitment for the ambitious project in terms of staff wages, construction or equipment costs, he said. Typical.
More than 250 accident victims and arthritis sufferers have already used the base’s facilities and the waiting list is growing day by day. But Southend Health Authority said it made it clear from the start no cash was forthcoming as it was severely overspent. Mr Mayne, instrumental in getting the £60,000 unit off the ground said: “We have had discussions with the health authority, and they have not said they will help fund it and have not said they won’t. That is typical of the non-committal stance they have shown throughout. They say they are short of nine physiotherapists themselves, but if they are short then they must have the money to pay for them.” He said the district’s lack of foresight in forwarding cash assistance to the unit would, in the long run, cost the authority more. And as it stood the centre would have to go it alone independent of the NHS. He said: ” If they have the money in the bank, they should stop floating about and put it towards our physio’s wages. The stalemate at the moment is ridiculous”.
The unit in Little Gypps Road, was built with money raised in the community – an achievement Sir Bernard stressed. He said:” It is a wonderful centre which has treated many people in the months before its opening. But now it needs money from subscribers and the community organisation which did so much to make the dream a reality”.
The centre which features a hydrotherapy pool and other up-to-minute pieces of equipment, has a group of multiple sclerosis sufferers on its books. But its management committee says it can only afford one part-time specialist to work around 24 hours a week. Health authority chairman councillor Ron Williams said;” They are totally unjustified in putting the blame on the health authority when we made it quite clear to them that with our present revenue difficulties we could not help with finance.”
“I think the unit is a very good example of voluntary effort, there’s no doubt about that. But the people with the best intentions have not recognised that there is an ongoing financial commitment”. Mr Williams said the authority was likely to be £450,000 overspent by the end of the year in its efforts to maintain present hospital services.