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written by Leigh-Ann Little | CEO The Oxygen Works

At The Oxygen Works, we have long since known the health and wellbeing properties of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), with literally tens of thousands of clients from across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland utilising the service since our charities creation in 1992.  Testament to the healing potential of HBOT and the development of moderately priced chambers, we are seeing more commercial businesses integrating this unique and effective therapy into their service offering.

Inside the chamber at The Oxygen Works

Whether charitable or commercial there is a combined effort to promote health, healing and improvements in wellbeing across our community in our own unique ways.  Offering communities a  growing number of options to access HBOT for numerous applications in a range of settings.  Moreover, a growing HBOT landscape will hopefully help enrich the collective understanding and acknowledgement of the role that this tool can play in managing health and wellbeing. Each approach, whether charity or commercial, hard or soft shell chamber, mild or moderate pressure, affordable or costlier brings its own strengths, perspectives and considerations for those seeking to access HBOT.

As we celebrate what unites us and the potential these new ventures bring to our communities, we can also honour and respect what makes us different. 

So where exactly does The Oxygen Works fit within the landscape of HBOT and therapy service provision?

The Oxygen Works has a heritage spanning over three decades of providing HBOT from our Inverness based centre.  Initially providing support under the teachings of Professor Philip James, who has spearheaded the charity HBOT movement in the UK, to the training and development of our in-house team to include a certified hyperbaric chamber technician and safety director. Over our history we have provided HBOT to individuals living with a range of health concerns and symptoms, which we continue to see expand today.

The surge of (predominantly) single person chambers that are being seen in private, commercial businesses, cater well to those seeking flexibility and convenience, and are often aimed at the sporting, beauty and wellness market, commonly offering treatment pressures of up to 1.3ATA.  Our hard shell, multi-place chamber that is capable of treatments up to 2ATA, seeks to offer simultaneous treatment of individuals where peer support and friendships are formed that extend beyond the chamber walls.  Creating a shared space where individuals can seek the comfort and support of like-minded individuals who are having similar life experiences, regardless of diagnosis or background.

Example of soft shell tensile chamber

How The Oxygen Works ensures HBOT is accessible and inclusive to those who need it most

As a charity, The Oxygen Works is committed to providing HBOT and services in a manner which is inclusive, affordable and accessible to its community.  Services are heavily subsidised to allow people to make a nominal donation towards their treatment, or at no cost where needed.  The prices charged by commercial HBOT services have a tendency to be more costly, reflective of their target market and need to pass on the total cost of delivery to their customers to make a sustainable business model.  As The Oxygen Works often supports some of the most vulnerable in our community, and support is often delivered over the long term, we fervently find ways to raise funds to ensure that services are affordable and accessible to those who need it most.

In the current economic climate this is a delicate balance of resource and financial management against a backdrop of increased demand and cost to deliver. As the cost of living crisis has tightened its grip, the ability to generate income through donations and events has been reduced.  Increased competition for smaller pots of grant funding is closing off other traditional third sector income routes.  And amongst it all, we are seeing an increase in diagnoses of long-term conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), the prevalence of new disease and strain on statutory services all leading to more people approaching the charity for support.

At The Oxygen Works we embrace diversity, we recognise the power of collaboration and mutual respect.  We celebrate the increase in availability of HBOT to more communities and individuals across the country, however we are keen to ensure that those individuals impacted by a diagnosis that will impact their health and wellbeing, understand that access to life-enhancing therapies like HBOT are not held in reserve for only those who can afford them.  We rely upon the support and generosity of our community, which is becoming more challenging to secure, however we are relentless in our creativity, agility and resilience to remain as custodians of affordable access to HBOT for another three decades and beyond.  Service provision, particularly for health needs, is not something that we believe should be binary. We are proud to uphold choice and we believe there is enough space for us all to operate within the market. And together, charity and commercial entities can amplify the impact of HBOT, creating a more inclusive and accessible healthcare landscape for all.

If you would like to learn more about how you can support The Oxygen Works or how we can support you, get in touch with us by email on contact@theoxygenworks.com or call to speak to a member of our team on 01463 240 365.

The Oxygen Works team in front of our chamber