Anger as council ends daycare contract

ELDERLY people living in north Suffolk have been left shocked and distressed after being told funding for a day treatment and therapy centre is to be withdrawn.

By David Lennard

ELDERLY people living in north Suffolk have been left shocked and distressed after being told funding for a day treatment and therapy centre is to be withdrawn.

Suffolk County Council's decision to withdraw funding will mean 33 people, many of whom are over 80-years-old, will no longer by able to attend the daycare services provided at All Hallows Hospital at Ditchingham, near Bungay.

The county council say the decision was made after it received reduced funding from central government but many of the vulnerable people affected have been left in tears.

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Suffolk County Council will be terminating its contract with the hospital on March 31, which will mean an end to the regular visits to the daycare centre for elderly people living in the north of the county.

Jessie Francis, 84, of Bungay, said: “The news came as a bolt out of the blue. We just cannot understand it.

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“The care and treatment we all receive here is first class and makes a real difference to our lives.”

Mrs Francis said if it were not for the regular visits to All Hallows she would not be able to leave her home.

“This is our one opportunity to get out and meet other people and now they want to take it away from us,” she added.

Jack Pugh, 86, of Bungay, is also upset that the funding is to be removed. He said: “It is like we are all one big happy family as the staff are so friendly and helpful.

“I just hope the county council changes its mind when it realises what these visits to the daycare centre mean to us.”

For the past three years 91-year-old Hilda Prime, of Bungay, has been visiting the daycare centre and cannot imagine what life will be like if they have to stop.

“Even if the county council find us somewhere else to go it will not be the same. Everyone is so happy to be able to come here so why stop it?” she asked.

Clair Deamer , Chief Executive of the charitable hospital, which is part of the Anglican Community of All Hallows, expressed her surprise and disappointment at the decision.

She said: “As a not-for-profit organisation, All Hallows' revised pricing was submitted to reflect the actual cost of providing care to meet each individual's needs.

“And after what seemed to be a very productive review meeting with the adult care and community services team just before Christmas we were dismayed to receive this notification.”

Hospital matron Janet Dunning said no alternative service provision has been identified for the elderly people affected by the decision.

“Our main concern now is to support our Suffolk day care patients through what is understandably a very confusing and distressing time,” she added.

Daycare patients at the hospital from Norfolk are unaffected as the contract with Norfolk County Council remains unchanged.

Ms Dunning said: “Our focus at All Hallows is to provide relevant, community-focussed services of the highest quality - a factor that has never been disputed by Suffolk County Council.

“We have worked hard to maintain very competitive rates, even with the inclusion of free transportation in the local area to ensure that our patients can take full advantage of the services available to them.”

Jane Midwood, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for adult care and community services, said: “Central government has left the county council very short of money for next year.

“Day care for people from Suffolk using All Hallows will cease on March 31, 2006, because we simply cannot afford the new charges proposed by the service provider from April 1.”

Ms Midwood said the county council would be reviewing the individual needs of the people from Suffolk that currently use All Hallows Day Centre and would identify alternative care in the south Waveney area where needed.

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