Wye Valley NHS Trust and Herefordshire Council at odds over shutdown of vital disability service (From Hereford Times)
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Wye Valley NHS Trust and Herefordshire Council at odds over shutdown of vital disability service
CASH-strapped Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT) is at odds with equally cash strapped Herefordshire Council over who pays for a vital service to the disabled shut down this week.
The Trust says it has little choice but to close the occupational therapy equipment and adaptations service (OTEAS) to new clients because the council won't cover the cost - as Trust's legal advice says the council is required to do.
Herefordshire Council says it is "very disappointed" at the Trust's stance.
OTEAS, which helps hundreds of disabled clients live independently will stop taking new referrals from this week.
The Trust, which has been providing the service, says the shutdown is because the Council has refused to pay for the service or even recognise the Trust's work.
“We’ve made it clear for months that we are providing this service, but the council, which is legally responsible for ensuring that it is provided, is denying any responsibility, said WVT chief executive Derek Smith.
“We have been compelled to close the door to new referrals with well over 300 people on our books whom we are continuing to help, but that cannot go on indefinitely if the council continues to refuse to pay for the service,” he said.
The service provides expert advice on independent living, loans of equipment and home alterations with a client base ranging from the elderly to seriously injured young adults.
WVT has been running the service since its start in 2011 and, within a year, it became aware that it was not being paid to do so.
Legal advice to the Trust confirmed the council's statutory responsibility with the Trust itself having no obligation to provide the service without payment.
In October, the Trust gave notice to the council giving it six months to either confirm it would pay for the service or find another provider.
That deadline that ran out last month without reply.
From now on, WVT will direct new referrals to the council’s adult social care.
"We sincerely apologise for any concern or worry this may cause, but we simply cannot afford to continue providing the service on a charitable basis," said Mr Smith.
In a statement the council said it was "very disappointed" with the stance taken by the Trust on an ""incorrect" basis.
"We have explained this to the Trust and will continue that dialogue,” the statement said.
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