Hundreds of OAPs overcharged for their care for years in a Sheffield Council blunder have finally been repaid after months of delays – and almost a year after the problem was publicly revealed.
Last September it emerged that elderly people across Sheffield had been invoiced for care visits lasting 20 or 30 minutes, when in reality carers had sometimes stayed for a fraction of that time.
When carers arrive and leave the homes of elderly patients who require help, such as with dressing, eating and washing, they must clock in and out on timesheets.
But Sheffield Council failed to match the accurate times given by care providers to the charges then billed to residents.
The authority apologised and said new procedures had been put in place so the mistake would not happen again while a new IT system was being brought in.
But by July this year the council had missed deadlines and still not refunded everyone eligible – and it was confirmed one person had died waiting.
The council said it had had to make ‘detailed checks’ on hundreds of records dating back years’ but the daughter of one Sheffield OAP said it was ‘appalling’ that it had taken so long.
Now the authority has confirmed that the last 150 people due refunds were completed by the end of July.
Its new IT system is also in place.
Documents seen by The Star show the council was expecting to pay out around £400,000 for the mistake.
Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for health, care and independent living, said: “We have corrected the errors made to some people’s accounts and have issued refunds. Once again, I’d like to apologise to them and to thank everyone for their patience while this was resolved.”
Linda Moss, whose 82-year-old mother from Intake was overcharged and refunded £1.024, first complained to the council in 2013 and revealed her experience to The Star one year ago.
She said: “I am very pleased that they finally, after two years, have accepted that this was a problem and fixed it.
“It should not have taken this long.
“I first reported it in 2013 and I came to The Star a year ago because I was fed up with nothing happening.”
Ms Moss said she still had concerns about whether the refunds made were for the correct amount and there was still no way for families to check what they paid.
She has also lodged an official complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman about the care provided to her mother.
The organisation’s annual review shows that the highest number of complaints made against the council last year were about adult social care, and concerns about it had risen across the country.