Devoted wife fears she could lose lifeline

COMMITMENT … loyal wife Betty Greenwell is determined to take care of ailing husband Wilf.

Published on Tuesday 22 May 2012 17:30

A LOYAL wife of a dementia sufferer with cancer has told of her fears over a vital support service they could lose.

The Home Support Service provides a lifeline for Betty Greenwell, 75, of Lilburn Close, East Boldon.

Betty is a devoted carer at home for her dementia-stricken husband Wilf, 86.

The couple were both widowed when they married 13 years ago and made a pledge to care for each other ‘in sickness and in health’.

It’s a commitment loving Betty is determined to see through as her husband also battles bowel cancer.

But she is angry that the future of the support service, funded jointly by South Tyneside Council and the borough’s Primary Care Trust (PCT), is uncertain.

Carers visit the couple’s home four times a day to see to former police officer and Royal Navy man Wilf’s personal hygiene needs.

But the borough council has announced it is withdrawing its support for the service.

Although the PCT has pledged to retain funding until next April, its future after that time is uncertain.

Betty said: “The carers only started coming in over last month when things got too much for me. I couldn’t do without them, they do a marvellous job and I am so grateful for the help I get.

“I want Wilf to stay at home, I don’t want him to go into hospital. I need the support I’m getting.

“Without it, I just don’t know what I’d do.”

She added: “I get angry that money can be found to pay for Trident missiles, aircraft and the Olympics when vital services are losing out. Withdrawing this service would have a devastating impact on so many people.

“I love Wilf, but I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. Without the carers, I don’t know how I would cope.”

A joint statement from NHS South of Tyne and Wear and South Tyneside Council, says: “The Home Support Service is aimed at supporting people in South Tyneside to be independent in their own home. In turn, it prevents unnecessary hospital admissions and encourages early discharge from hospital where appropriate

“South Tyneside Council has, in the past, provided funding for the service which is provided by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust. However, following significant reductions in the funding it receives from the Government, the council has had to prioritise its funding towards social care services rather than health–based services.

“In doing so, it has taken the difficult decision to withdraw funding for this service from September 2012, but remains committed to working with its partners to support people in the community.”

It adds: “We would like to reassure patients that services will continue to be provided for people in their own homes.

“NHS health commissioners have identified funding to continue to commission the Home Support Service for patients until April 2013, while a full review of intermediate care services takes place.”

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