Protest against NHS cuts in Derbyshire set to take place on Monday
A protest against NHS cuts in Derbyshire is set to take place outside County Hall on Monday.
Among the proposed multi-million healthcare cuts is the potential axing of support for two Erewash charities, Community Concern Erewash and Bright Street Laundry.
The combined services, overseen by chairman Irene Hardill, cost health chiefs £22,000 a year to support and currently cater for more than 500 patients.
Bright Street Laundry provides washing, drying and ironing services for the disabled and elderly, along with support to enable people to stay at home – it will close on Friday, November 30.
Community Concern Erewash also helps the vulnerable stay at home instead of in care homes or hospitals and includes a meals-on-wheels service; a befriending service; and a lunch club; along with help decorating and gardening – it will close on Friday, December 21.
The cuts are being made by Derbyshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups, which oversee NHS spending locally.
Mark Prati, who lives in Ilkeston, has learning disabilities and has volunteered with Bright Street Laundry for 17 years - helping the drivers to collect and delivery laundry and ironing.
Amie Elliott, deputy chief executive officer of the two charities, said that the impact of the closures on Mark would be “substantial”.
His mother, Wendy, a teaching assistant at Bennerley Fields Special School in Cotmanhay, said that Mark immediately thought of the people who use the service when he was told it would be closing.
She said: “I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be to the news, but the first thing he said was ‘The customers can’t survive without this service, what are they going to do?’
“I feel like the CCG are not thinking about the people, just the money, they don’t see the impact it will have on people who rely on the service.
“We have got to do something about it and let the CCG know our feelings about the cuts.
“These services mean so much to the people who need them and must have them to survive.
“So we are going to go to that meeting and give them a piece of our minds, I just hope that the community shows up.”
Both services have been run for 26 years by volunteers, but Ms Hardill said: “We have been forced to reach this difficult decision due primarily to significant funding cuts from our local statutory partner organisations due to central government funding cuts.
“Whilst we have worked hard to try and spread our funding base as much as possible to minimise risk to both organisations, without local partner match funding or financial support from independent grant-making bodies this is incredibly difficult, and in most cases impossible. This has resulted in the erosion of our modest reserves to keep operational for the benefit of our local community and those most in need.”
In a letter to volunteers, Ms Hardill wrote: “We are all proud and thankful of what you have done to support vulnerable people and we are all aware that without your contribution many people would have been forced into residential care/hospital prematurely.
“With your help, people have been able to maintain their independence at home and live a longer and more fulfilling life – thank you so much.”
In a report to the county council, compiled by the CCGs’ chief executive Dr Chris Clayton, it states that the risk of the two services closing are: “Service users will not be supported; removal of service will increase loneliness and potential for unsafe discharges and re-admissions to hospital.
“194 terminally ill people who have MRSA or C.diff (bacterial infections) or open wounds used the service, this impacts on their ability to stay at home at end of life.
“Removal of all funding risks valuable input of laundry service to home from hospital and end-of-life – and saving of hospital bed costs.
“Removal of befriending increases loneliness.
“A high proportion of GP contacts are believed to result from loneliness which is recognised as a key determinant in early death.”
Community Concern Erewash and Bright Street Laundry are phasing out their services on the following dates:
Street Laundry CIC. Services to residents will cease on the following staggered dates:
Dinners4U (meals on wheels) – Friday, September 28
Luncheon Club – Friday, September 28
1:1 Befriending – Friday, September 28
Erewash Friendship Club – Wednesday, December 19
Home Comforts Team (gardening, decorating, DIY) – Friday, December 21
A deficit of £95 million among the CCGs has led to a demand by national NHS chiefs for cuts of £51 million by April with a further £71 million required the year after.
In response, a rally will be held outside County Hall in Matlock on Monday, September 10, from 1.30pm.
The rally comes ahead of the meeting of the county council with Dr Clayton at 2pm. He he is due to flesh out the impact assessments that have been carried out on the proposed cuts.
This week, five of Derbyshire’s MPs held a debate in Parliament to raise their concerns at the “utter financial chaos” at the county’s main NHS organisations.