THE STAR SAYS: Sort care blunder out or it will be too late for more OAPs

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It is bad enough that hundreds of elderly people in Sheffield were overcharged for their care visits in the first place.

The error was only revealed publicly because Linda Moss, whose mother had been affected, contacted The Star with her concerns last September.

It turned out that around 500 OAPs had been paying for 20 or 30 minute care visits for years, when in reality carers stayed only a fraction of that time.

Sure, the council then apologised for the ‘system error’, said lessons had been learned and took on extra staff to work solely on ensuring that all service users have paid the right amount for their care.

That was the right thing to do.

Ten months later, there are still many people who have not been refunded.

This is apparently due to more ‘technical issues’ with a new computer system brought in to ensure the error did not happen again.

Now nobody expected the authority to fix this in a fortnight, as that’s not realistic.

But surely it could have been resolved sooner?

Linda Moss, who although her own frail mother is being refunded has continued to chase this up on behalf of other people in Sheffield, was told everything would be sorted by June. That deadline was clearly missed.

Now the council insists payments totalling around £400,000 and checks will be completed by the end of this month - let us hope that it is.

For some of our readers might point out that if they missed a payment on their social housing rent or council tax then there would soon be a letter through the door, followed by the bailiffs arriving.

Yes, this blunder is more complex but the council has had plenty of time to fix the problem now.

Sadly it has emerged that one person affected by the error has died while waiting for a refund.

The council says that person was owed less than £10.

That is not the point though.

As Linda says, who knows what they went without or worried over to pay for their care. Unless the council cracks on and gets this sorted it is inevitable that more elderly people will die before they get their money back, and then it is too late.

If you or a member of your family has been affected please contact the newsroom on 01142 767676 or email news@thestar.co.uk.