Wiltshire services in jeopardy

Services for vulnerable people across Wiltshire have been put in jeopardy after an 11th-hour decision by two indebted primary care trusts to withdraw £3 million from a number of care schemes.

With just 14 hours to go before the end of the financial year last Friday (31 March), Kennet and North Wiltshire and West Wiltshire PCTs informed Wiltshire Council, which commissioned the services, that it was withdrawing the funding.

Earlier this year the Department of Health sent in trouble-shooting teams to the trusts, which share the same management, to combat forecasted combined deficits of £14 million.

The services concerned include respite care schemes and day services 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.”

The authority has already absorbed almost £2 million in costs passed over from the PCTs and had to cut £3 million overall from adult services to balance its books.

Council leader Jane Scott has written to care services minister Liam Byrne demanding an urgent meeting.

The PCTs were unavailable for comment as this story was written.

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