Services for vulnerable people in Wiltshire have been put at risk after two indebted primary care trusts suddenly withdrew £3m from a number of care schemes.
Just 14 hours before the end of the financial year on 31 March, Kennet and North Wiltshire and West Wiltshire PCTs told Wiltshire Council, which commissioned the services, the funding would be axed.
Earlier this year the Department of Health sent in troubleshooters to the trusts, which share the same management, to combat a forecast £14m combined deficit.
The services affected include respite care and day care for disabled children and adults and those with learning difficulties, and 50 residential and nursing home places for older people.
The council’s director of adult and community services, Ray Jones, said: “Making savings very quickly and setting budgets with no notice is not a sensible way to behave. The county council is not withdrawing from these services but what it can’t do is to continue to fund them.”
Wiltshire has already absorbed nearly £2m in costs passed over from the PCTs and had to cut £3m from adult services to balance its books.
Council leader Jane Scott has requested an urgent meeting with care services minister Liam Byrne.
A spokesperson for the PCTs said they pulled out of the residential care placements to meet the costs of an increase in delayed discharges brought on by reductions in the number of residential placements funded by the council.
Jones countered that the reductions were triggered by costs passed on to the council by the PCTs earlier in the financial year.
The PCTs’ spokesperson also claimed they had withdrawn funding from the respite and day care services because the council had severed an agreement on pooling budgets for learning difficulties services. But Jones said the council believed the agreement was still in place.