Fears as Worthing rehabilitation gym staff levels are cut

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THE recovery of people using a rehabilitation gym in Worthing could be under threat, after West Sussex County Council made drastic cuts to its experienced staff.

The gym at the Rowans Centre, in Steeple View, Tarring, offers equipment for those who are suffering from medical conditions which need exercise to cure or provide a reduction of their condition.

After being operated – at a profit – for 12 years by staff with specialist qualifications for such rehabilitation, there are now fears gym-users are not receiving the support they need, after funding cuts meant staff were made redundant.

The gym is now functioning under reduced staffing, who lack the experience of previous instructors.

Former senior fitness instructor Jenny White, who lost her job at the end of October, said: “I am not concerned because I have lost my job at the end of this – I am worried this one-of-a-kind service, which has helped so many people, will go to waste.”

The 44-year-old, of Sea Lane, Goring, was told by West Sussex County Council earlier this year there was no specific role for her left at the gym, which she had set up herself in 1999.

Jenny said she was then told she could opt for voluntary redundancy, and would then later be considered for a consultation post at a later date. However, since the redundancy has taken effect, Jenny said she was informed she would not be taken back in a similar role, owing to the terms of the redundancy.

Jenny said: “I miss working there, but I honestly just want to make sure the gym users are getting the support they need.”

Users of the Rowans gym have said Jenny’s presence is sorely missed.

Phil Burton, 56, of Strathmore Road, has spastic paraplegia, a progressive muscle paralysis affecting the lower limbs.

Phil, who is wheelchair bound, said the gym has improved his well-being immensely since he started attending three years ago.

“I try to go to the gym as often as I can,” he said. “It loosens my muscles and I feel better after a session. But the staff there at the moment, while they are trying their best and their hands are tied, simply do not have the same experience. Sometimes I need help to get in and out of the machines, and I have been told my carer should assist me if I want to use the equipment, which isn’t always achievable.”

Helen Bromberg, 78, of College Gardens, said Jenny offered her treatment and advice which was effective and invaluable after her multiple hip operations.

She said: “Jenny just knew exactly what to do. Without the support there you are nervous about whether you are doing the right thing. The atmosphere used to be so friendly and positive, but not any more. ”

Helen added: “I just don’t understand the logic of removing staff who are well trained and doing a wonderful job.”

West Sussex County Council insisted the gym was appropriately staffed at all times.

A spokesperson said: “A decision to change the model of day services was taken earlier this year.

“This means the county council’s day centres are moving to focus on specialist needs only.

“Following formal staff consultation, a new staffing structure for day services was agreed which came into effect earlier this month. This agreed staffing structure supports the move from a multi-purpose to specialist day-service provision.”