Last admiral nursing service in Norfolk to be dropped after u-turn by cash-strapped health chiefs
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A valued dementia support service will be scrapped despite health chiefs claiming its future was secured just two months ago.
The South Norfolk admiral nursing service, which provides help and advice to carers looking after people with dementia, will cease after South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) failed to agree a contract with the region's mental health trust.
It was the only service of its kind offered in Norfolk.
The CCG made the decision at a meeting of its governing body yesterday.
At the meeting it also emerged that an internal financial recovery plan has been launched in a bid stop the CCGs' finances from slipping £4m further into the red this year.
The CCG is required by the NHS to save at least £14m, but even then is expected to end the financial year with an £8.7m deficit.
Its decision to decommission the admiral nurse service came two months after the body announced the service 'would be continued to be delivered for the foreseeable future'.
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But the CCG was unable to finalise a deal with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) - because bosses felt they could not afford the £153,000 annual cost.
Antek Lejk, chief officer of South Norfolk CCG, said: 'We know this decision may be disappointing, however we cannot afford to continue with a service which we know is inequitable and unsustainable.
'In the current climate we have reluctantly concluded there is no other realistic option.
'We do recognise the importance of providing support for people with dementia and their carers, and we are inviting members of the public to get involved in how we can effectively meet this need.'
The CCG said the 'huge economey drive' was needed becaused it ended the last financial year with an £8m deficit, and the 'costs of providing NHS care in South Norfolk continue to outstrip the budget available'.
A workshop will be held on October 27 to discuss the outcome of the decision.
Gary Hazelden, locality manager at NSFT, said: 'Admiral nurses have provided excellent care and support to people who care for someone with dementia and have been an effective aspect of the dementia care pathway in South Norfolk.
'We regret that despite our best efforts working with partners the service will not be able to continue.'
The admiral nurse service in South Norfolk was first established as a two-year pilot, funded by The People's Lottery and NSFT.
It was run in partnership with Dementia UK, Age UK Norfolk and NSFT.
When the lottery funding was due to expire, the CCG stepped in with a grant while a different model was trialled.
This service was limited in scope and could not effectively support everyone in South Norfolk on a full, fair and equal basis, the CCG said.
Carer Jan Jelves, of Lime Tree Avenue, Wymondham, who looks after her husband Richard, said she was 'very disappointed'.
She is among several carers who visit a cafe-event hosted by Wymondham Dementia Support Group at Fairland Church Hall on a weekly basis, where admiral nurses often attend to give advice and support.
Mrs Jelves, whose husband has had dementia for around 18 months, said: 'It is such a shame.
'I'm very disappointed. I do feel that carers for people with dementia are forgottten about.
'The admimral nurses who come to the cafe are really helpful to all of us. One of them recently helped me fill out a complicated form that I needed to complete.'
For more information on admiral nursing contact Dementia UK's national helpline by calling 0800 888 6678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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