MP says hospital pool should open for school pupils

The pool at the Oasis Wellness centre in Portsmouth

The pool at the Oasis Wellness centre in Portsmouth

Highbury competitors in the Wessex Salon Culinaire, from left  Keith McAllister, Zoe Castle, Codrut Cosmin Mazilu, tutor Matthew Sussex, George Heasman, Zehanara Poly Begum, Edward Searles and Aaliyah Murray

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AN INDOOR heated swimming pool at Queen Alexandra Hospital should be opened up to schools, the Portsmouth North MP says.

Penny Mordaunt says she will be writing to Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief executive to ask if the private facility for NHS staff and other select groups could be made available to youngsters.

She believes the 20m by 9m pool in the Cosham hospital’s health club, the Oasis Wellness Centre, could provide swimming facilities in the Paulsgrove and Cosham areas.

Miss Mordaunt said: ‘With the Olympics coming up we want all our pupils to try different sports.

‘But for us, living in a seaside town, swimming is much more than that. It’s a life skill. The pool has been described to me as a really beautiful facility within walking distance of two schools. If the hospital opened it up to schools, it would be great news for the community.’

Irene Baldry, head of Portsdown Primary in Cosham, which is one of the schools within walking distance of the hospital, admits swimming is a rare treat for pupils.

She said: ‘About five per cent of our children could swim 50 metres on their front and back – it’s a terrible indictment of a city which has a seaside.

‘I would be thrilled if we could use the QA facility.

‘It would be a gem of an opportunity for children to have access to a community pool which is on their doorstep.’

At Medina Primary up to 70 per cent of nine and 10-year-olds are non-swimmers. It’s for these two school Miss Mordaunt would like to see the pool open too.

But the hospital trust says the pool cannot be opened for public use because it would not meet all safety regulations.

This includes not having lifeguards, because as a private pool there is no requirement for them. The trust also said that it does not have the correct insurance or money to maintain the pool for public use.

Miss Mordaunt is fundraising to set up a temporary pool in Paulsgrove this summer .

She needs to raise around £5,000. To make a donation call her office on (023) 9269 7266.

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