Premier Hyperbaric Medical Facility Closed Due to NHS Budget Cuts
The London Diving Chamber, based at The Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in St John's Wood, London, has announced that it will be closed on 31 March 2019, after 15 years of operation.
The news follows a year on from a public consultation over a decision to cut the number of hyperbaric chambers in the south of England from ten to two. At the time, a statement from NHS England claimed that 'this service is currently over provided, at an unnecessary cost to taxpayers, and therefore [NHS England] propose to reduce the number of commissioned providers from ten to eight.'
The London Diving Chamber's remit goes far beyond cases of treating decompression illness (DCI). As well as providing training facilities and scuba diving medicals, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including serious burns injuries, diabetic wounds, anaemia, skin grafts and crush injuries, to name just a few of the conditions for which HBOT is used.
A statement from Dr Oliver Firth on the London Diving Chamber's blog page reads:
'After completing over 10,000 dives in the chamber in support of divers, dry divers, course attendees and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy patients it is with a great sadness we announce that London Diving Chamber is ceasing service due to NHS budget cut backs and constraints on 31st March 2019.
The whole team wish to thank everyone for their support over the last fifteen years including our patients, students, dive medicals, divers, working partners and friends.
This unique facility is run by a team of dedicated people who have been on hand every day in case of a dive emergency and it is a great shame to lose this service but we be running until the end of March.
Midlands Diving Chamber will continue to run the full service from dive medicals to emergency treatment, their emergency DCI advice line operates the same emergency number: +44 7931 472602
Keep your Dive Emergency Assistance Plans and Risk Assessments up to date by finding the location of your nearest chamber and updating your records.'
The London Hyperbaric Medicine (LHM) Chamber at Whipps Cross Hospital in northeast London has been awarded the NHS contract for treating decompression illness in the London area.