Red Cross Mobility Services
I have been doing some work, trying to establish the facts behind the decision of the Red Cross to remove Mobility Aid Centres from Totton.
This is a National trend, not just confined to Hampshire.
My efforts finally resulted in a long discussion with the chap who is responsible for the whole of the UK operation.
That said, Hampshire is being hard hit.
Along with Totton, they are planning to remove mobility centres in Portchester, Ringwood, Havant, Lee on Solent, Yateley and Romsey.
Local people will have to travel to Eastleigh or Lymington if they wish to access the services, which includes loan of wheelchairs and lot’s of other items.
The Red Cross aren’t at all the villains here.
They don’t want to close these centres, especially all the hard working volunteers who run them!
The problem here is, would you believe it, government policy.
There is no statutory duty on the NHS or Social Services to supply this equipment.
The law could be changed to make this a duty, but it isn’t currently the case.
The problem has also been compounded by government policy which meant chopping up the NHS into business units, including NHS Property Services.
Surprise, surprise, NHS Property Services wants to end the arrangement whereby the Red Cross could use NHS buildings at a peppercorn rent (£1 a year) and has started invoicing the charity for commercial rates running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
As if this wasn’t all bad enough, the government decided that it wanted to split the NHS up into Clinical Commissioning groups, (CCG’s) and providers.
The local CCG’s are under-funded because of austerity measures and so the Red Cross found that its costs of running operations weren’t covered by the funding made available by the CCG’s.
Effectively then, the government system has crushed the voluntary sector (which was expected to step in and provide cover for things the NHS cannot do).
I have tried to mediate and sort things out in an effort to save the much valued local Red Cross service, but the problem is one of government policy.
Instead of having a joined up approach, all parties are having to protect their own budgets.
Perhaps some of you might be moved to lobby the local MP about this issue.
I haven’t yet given up, but this issue is somewhat above my pay grade as a local Councillor.
Once the service is lost, it will much more expensive to put back and a lot of people will suffer the consequences in the meantime.