A health organisation has defended its decision to stop funding key mental health services in Melton.
It was announced on Friday that East Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (ELR CCG) would not continue contributing beyond the end of July an annual £35,000 towards the cost of running meeting groups for people with dementia at the town’s Gloucester House.
Dozens of carers were left devastated by the development because they say the sessions give loved ones valuable human interaction and also provide them with essential respite from the challenging demands of looking after them.
And Age UK Leicestershire and Rutland, which also contributed £35,000 towards the four day-a-week meetings, said it could not afford to keep them going without the additional grant aid.
But the ELR CCG said it had to prioritise where it allocated funds for community healthcare services.
The organisation’s chief strategy and planning officer, Jane Chapman, said: “We absolutely recognise the value of the services provided by organisations such as Age UK.
“Supporting older people and those who benefit from day services remains a priority for us, but we need to ensure we invest the money we have in healthcare for those individuals, particularly where money is available from other sources to fund the social care aspects of support.”
Ms Chapman said the other sources of funding included personal health budget which were increasingly being used to allow patients to tailor the care and support they needed.
She said some patients were also eligible for support though local authority social care budgets while others elected to pay for day care themselves.
“We have given six months’ notice and are committed to working with Age UK and other partner organisations to ensure people know where they can access support,” added Ms Chapman.
Age UK Leicestershire and Rutland’s executive director, Tony Donovan, told the Melton Times when the news broke on Friday: “We have 25 people using this service four days a week and we have another nine on the waiting list.
“Carers are absolutely devastated this is happening - I have had calls from people who have been crying over the phone because they won’t be able to bring a loved one here anymore.
“Many of the carers are already at the end of their tether because of having to look after someone 24 hours a day.
“When our groups are closed, there will no longer be anywhere for these people to go except into a care home.”
One of the carers is Lynn Prenderville, of Melton, who brings her mum, 89-year-old Mary Gamble, to sessions at Gloucester House.
Lynn said: “It will be absolutely dreadful when this service closes. Mum has Alzheimer’s and she’s only been coming here for a few months but it’s made such a difference to her. Since my dad died this has made her socialise and she looks forward to it and interacting with other people of her age.”