A WOMAN says she has been unfairly refused access to arthritis therapy because she is not Asian.
Jane Woodage, of Honley, has suffered from arthritis and rheumatism since 1987.
She saw an advert for reduced-price hydropool ``taster sessions", which help to relieve arthritis and similar illnesses.
The South Asian Healthy Living Partnership was offering six introductory cut-price sessions at the Trinity Hydrotherapy Centre in Huddersfield. When Mrs Woodage asked to attend the sessions she was told they were only for Asians.
She said: "There doesn't seem to be anything subsidised like this for people who are not Asian.
"I don't mind Asian people getting this type of thing, as long as everyone else can get the same.
"I have spoken to some Asian people about this and they have said they think it's wrong, because it puts us against them."
Mrs Woodage's husband, Alex, said: "It's like segregation."
Mrs Woodage was told that cash given for the project by the Big Lottery Fund was specifically for the Asian community.
But the Big Lottery Fund says there is nothing in its grant conditions to stop non-Asians using the services it pays for.
A fund spokeswoman said they were keen to integrate - not segregate - different cultures in the community.
She added: "The Huddersfield South Asian community is less likely to use mainstream health care, and so is the primary target group of the South Asian Healthy Living Partnership.
"However, there is no condition of grant specifically stipulating that the centre is for the exclusive use of the South Asian community.
"We have written to the organisation to reaffirm the terms and conditions of our grant."
Mrs Woodage said she wanted to attend the sessions because she was having difficulty accessing cheap hydropool services elsewhere.
In the past she had used NHS hydropool sessions at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, but is having problems getting referred again by her GP.
There is a one-month waiting list for the HRI sessions.
She said: "Once you are diagnosed you are simply put on drugs and that's it. There's nothing else, no back-up services in the community such as complementary therapies.
"I find it very annoying. I could go private, but I would have to pay full price. Why shouldn't there be subsidised taster sessions for people with arthritis who are not Asian?"
The South Asian Healthy Living Partnership is run by a group of Asian community organisations.
But it is accountable to Kirklees Council Social Services, which is supporting the scheme to help it become an independent organisation.
A Kirklees spokeswoman said the aim of the cut-price taster sessions was to attract Asian people who had not been using the pool.
She added: "The funding for the initiative is from the lottery's New Opportunities Healthy Living Grant and was specifically for the Asian community.
"Where it has been possible to accommodate interest from the whole community, we have done so, as we are very aware of the community cohesion angle.
"On this occasion the service has been over-subscribed, and therefore kept specifically for the Asian community."
A Huddersfield Central Primary Care Trust spokeswoman said the best way for arthritis sufferers to find suitable services was to be referred to one by their GP.
She said she did not know why Mrs Woodage was having problems finding hydrotherapy services.
But she recommended that patients with similar problems should contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals) to have their case investigated.
The Pals phone number is 01484 466172 or email PALS@huddersfieldcentral-pct.nhs.uk