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MPs talk hydrotherapy at APPG, 4 November 2020

“When the pool first closed, it was worrying; I had to increase my medication, and my flares lasted longer, causing more damage to my body. This led to an increase in anxiety and depression, which I didn’t have before as everything was managed. I now have to take medication to manage this as well.” Peter Kellythorn, NASS Member

Wednesday 4th November saw the fifth meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Axial Spondyloarthritis (see video below). This time around the focus was hydrotherapy, a topic we know is close to the hearts of so many people with axial SpA (AS). It is often overlooked and underappreciated as a form of treatment.

The meeting explored a variety of angles, starting with the patient perspective and the impact of hydrotherapy on their daily lives. The evidence was given to support the use of hydrotherapy to treat axial SpA (AS). This was followed by a presentation of the NASS funded research into hydrotherapy provisions around the UK and Freedom of Information request on the current status. The final presentation was on what’s needed to ensure that hydrotherapy is able to demonstrate its value and to be cost-effective.

“I have to admit at first I was dubious about hydrotherapy. But it changed my life.” Roger Stevens, NASS Portsmouth

The meeting brought together those who advocate for the benefits of hydrotherapy alongside people with axial SpA (AS) and clinicians alike. A call to action was made by the Natalie Beswetherick, of the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy, for commissioning guidance to be developed to ensure hydrotherapy services are available to meet local population needs across the country.

A commitment came from Tom Randall MP, Co-Chair of the group to discover the situation in his local constituency as one of the key discussion points was focused around pools that were open before COVID, would not re-open due.

Although we know the benefits of hydrotherapy from the experiences of people who use it, it is also something of a controversial issue as there is a lack of robust clinical evidence to support the patient experience. NASS is pleased to be working with the APPG; however, in working to ensure that hydrotherapy gets the recognition it deserves as a viable treatment option.

This meeting was the first step in what we hope will be an impactful campaign, in finding the evidence and promoting the benefits of hydrotherapy. We will be working with several organisations to make sure that we have a voice. NASS cannot do this alone, but we hope to lead the way in making a difference.

With thanks to speakers Peter Kellythorn (NASS Member), Dr Carol McCrum (Consultant Physiotherapist, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust), Claire Jeffries (Physiotherapy Clinical Specialist in Hydrotherapy & Rheumatology, Solent NHS Trust, Chair of AStretch and NASS Trustee) and Natalie Beswetherick (Director of Practice and Development, Chartered Society for Physiotherapy).

Read about previous meetings here.