Pensioners given hospital reprieve
A GROUP of north Suffolk pensioners have been given a reprieve in their fight to continue using a local hospital for essential day care services.The 33 elderly people relied on financial support from Suffolk County Council to be able to visit All Hallows Hospital at Ditchingham, near Bungay.
By David Lennard
A GROUP of north Suffolk pensioners have been given a reprieve in their fight to continue using a local hospital for essential day care services.
The 33 elderly people relied on financial support from Suffolk County Council to be able to visit All Hallows Hospital at Ditchingham, near Bungay.
As reported in the EADT earlier this year, the county council decided to withdraw its funding for the day care in a bid to find cheaper alternatives elsewehere.
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The pensioners involved were upset at the thought of not being allowed to continue visiting All Hallows and urged county councillors to rethink the decision.
In the past few weeks discussions have been taking place between representatives of the hospital and county council offices and a compromise has been reached that will allow the pensioners to keep attending day care at All Hallows for another year.
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Under the compromise Suffolk County Council has agreed to continue funding places for the 33 elderly people who currently receive day care at All Hallows until the end of January 2007 - but at 2004 rates.
The Friends of All Hallows, and two charitable organisations that wish to remain anonymous, will make contributions to make up the cash shortfall.
Maureen Davies, chair of the Association of Friends of All Hallows, said: “Our first concern is for these elderly people and their families, who have come to rely so much on the care and friendship they find at All Hallows.”
Mrs Davies emphasised that the agreement was only a temporary solution and that negotiations between the hospital and county council staff would continue to try and find a longer-term agreement.
“All Hallows is a not-for-profit organisation, so it seems very unlikely that comparable services, including transportation, could be provided cheaper elsewhere.
“The friends fully support All Hallows' efforts to renegotiate terms, and very much hope that a lasting solution can be found, which will enable Suffolk's elderly to continue to find access to the services they rely on here in the future.”
Jane Midwood, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for adult care and community services, said: “I am very pleased that this matter has now been resolved.
“We provide the best services we can for vulnerable people, but can only act within the funding we have available.”
Ms Midwood said the believed the distress caused to the elderly people could have been avoided if All Hallows had entered into negotiations earlier. “Longer term negotiations will, of course, continue,” she said.