Random Jottings

You try and sometimes you try and then fail.....

That is the way it was following the review of decompression chamber facilities funded by the NHS in the UK.

I wrote articles, got the various dive operators to send out the link to the consultation paper in the hope that it might help and you know what, maybe it did. But at the end of the day there are some 'facts' that drive the service that divers hope never to use:-

a) Sorry, but diving in the UK is withering on the branch, twenty years ago there would be twenty or thirty RIBS plus half a dozen hardboats around the Farne Islands, today there are the same number of hardboats but maybe ten RIBS on an exceptional day. Way back when at Bishop Auckland club we would take out three club boats plus five 'private' boats.....you don't get that many out on 95% of the days in total!

b) The emergency services now operate helicopters which are significantly faster than the old Sea Kings so the travel time is greatly reduced, you can go further faster.

So the results were published, following a second round of consultation and they were not 'as bad' as originally envisaged with the loss of two rather than four facilities, not great if you work at one of the impacted sites but better than it could have been.


So we now know that the London Diving Centre in London is one facility that will be shutting up shop, however the centre at Whipps Cross will remain open to treat divers who dsiplay symptoms of DCI once they 'get home' from diving off the South Coast or further afield. The only news I can find on the second closure is that it will be somewhere in the South of England, again that is where most facilities are situated so maybe this isn't such a big surprise. 

Why London Diving Centre, well the capital is already catered for, quick access with a casualty via a helicopter isn't easy as you need to fly over the capital and interact with several major airports and lets be honest here for 'bad' cases of DCI where the casualty is airlifted from a boat then you want a chamber by the coast, so DDRC at Plymouth and Dunstaffnagh at Oban. Oh and cynically if land is sold it is a piece of prime real-estate adjoining a private hospital rather than a site that no-one would be interested in.

However it should be remembered that the hardware, the steel chambers and associated controls, will not simply be sold off the Steptoe and Son but most likely recycled to another facility so I guess on a more optimistic note at least the number of 'beds' will remain constant.

Having spent a week at DDRC following a life threatening incident (PFO after 3,000+ dives, tcccch!) I know that when you need the facility then it is really needed  but if we are honest with the falling number of divers, albeit offset by the age and general health of the remaining community then the loss of two facilities and highly probable re-location of the hardware is probably as good as could be expected.

Dive safe


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