England’s National Health Service Could Reduce The Number Of Hyperbaric Chambers

Interior of hyperbaric recompression chamber
Interior of hyperbaric recompression chamber

England’s National Health Service is putting together a new policy on the use of hyperbaric chambers to treat divers suffering from decompression sickness, and is looking into the possibility of reducing the number of hyperbaric chambers in the country.

According to NHS England:

“NHS England believes that this service is currently over provided, at an unnecessary cost to tax payers, and therefore propose to reduce the number of commissioned providers from ten to eight.”

Needless to say, critics say the policy could harm the diving community and have called the proposal “utterly bananas.”

Under the draft proposal, one hyperbaric facility in London and one in the southern part of the country would be closed.

Potential ramifications for such a move, critics say, could be:

* Increasing transport times for injured divers to an appropriate chamber, conceivably worsening their outcomes;
* A reduction in national capacity to treat multiple simultaneous incidents;
* Deskilling of highly trained chamber staff, with implications for the quality of care they are able to provide;
* The loss of services such as medicals, training courses, dry dives, email and telephone advice; and
* A reduction in the provision of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for non-diving conditions eg. diabetic foot ulcers, soft-tissue radiation damage, carbon monoxide poisoning.

NHS England has set up a website for the public to submit comments by February 14th, 2018.

So if you live in England and want to take part in the survey, go to engage.england.nhs.uk.