ELDERLY dementia sufferers who face losing their home if the proposed closure of two specialist nursing centres is given the green light joined a protest against the moves at NHS headquarters yesterday.
The five residents from Woodland View in Norton and Birch Avenue in Chapeltown were transported to NHS Sheffield’s base in Darnall to join a group of concerned relatives fighting to keep the homes open.
The primary care trust has proposed withdrawing £2.8 million in ‘top-up’ funding for the homes, claiming there is no evidence to suggest they provide sufficient added value to justify the extra cost. If the cash is pulled, the homes will almost certainly be forced to close.
But a group of determined relatives is fighting the plans and turned up at the board meeting of NHS Sheffield with placards and banners to show opposition to the moves.
Relatives also quizzed health chiefs at the meeting on the finance and figures involved, and raised concerns about where their loved ones would go if the homes are shut down.
Margaret Smith, one of the residents who travelled to the meeting, questioned the board herself, asking: “Why are you throwing me out of my home? I don’t want to leave, I want this to stop.”
The Save My Home campaign continues today when protesters hand over a petition containing around 12,000 signatures opposing the plans.
Sue Harding, whose 88-year-old mother Clara Goddard has Alzheimer’s Disease and has been a resident at Birch Avenue for the past 10 years, said: “I think the board was shocked to be confronted with some of the people it is trying to evict.
“I think it was perfectly right for us to take along some of those who are able to understand a little, so they could be part of the consultation about their future.”
Rita Brookes, whose aunt Joyce Wilde, 84, has been a resident at Woodland View for the past two years, said they were also pleased to get the support of South East Sheffield MP Clive Betts.
The 52-year-old, from Whiston, Rotherham, said: “Everyone has been very supportive and it was great to see so many people turn out to show their support at the demonstration or by signing the petition.
“We are worried about where our loved ones will go if these specialist homes are closed down and we will not stop fighting to keep them open.
She said she and fellow campaigners would continue to protest against the moves in the run-up to a final decision being made by the PCT board in June, following the end of a four-month consultation period next month.
“We will keep applying the pressure,” Rita said. “We are hoping people power will win out in the end.”
Ian Atkinson, interim chief executive at NHS Sheffield, said: “We are very mindful that this is a difficult time for residents, families and staff at the two care homes.
“The consultation asks for views on the arguments for and against the withdrawal of the £2.8m annual top-up funding provided by NHS Sheffield, and if funding were to be withdrawn, on the steps that should be taken to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of the residents. The £2.8m is needed because the homes are twice as expensive as other care homes providing similar care for people with similar health needs.
“The board will not make its final decision until it has seen the results of the consultation at its meeting in June.”