Droitwich woman to lose 'lifeline' as part of council cuts

First published in News

A DROITWICH woman who suffers ‘grand mal’ seizures is set to lose what she calls her ‘lifeline’ after a decision by Worcestershire County Council to cut services.

Pamela Waterlow was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 and had an operation which successfully removed 95 per cent of the growth.

However the tumour is still growing and Ms Waterlow is susceptible to grand mal seizures which can strike at any time.

Currently she has a fall detector issued through Worcestershire Telecare, a contractor for Worcestershire County Council, and if she were to fall for any reason, the company would attempt to contact her, sending out paramedics with prior knowledge of her medication to her home if their attempts proved unsuccessful.

Until now Ms Waterlow has paid £4 a month toward the cost of the service, with the remainder funded through the county council, but on June 18 she received a letter from Worcestershire Telecare to say her condition would be reassessed to see if her need for the service was critical and substantial.

Ms Waterlow was called last week by a representative from the council who gave her a short interview, asking whether she could carry a bag of shopping, and whether she needed help getting dressed, before telling her she was no longer eligible for the service and if she wanted to continue using it, she would have to pay £4.86 a week plus VAT.

She said: “Day to day I’m fine. I’m disabled because of my seizures. I can’t work. I’m currently signed off on long term sick leave. I’m on my own a lot of the time. My partner Steve is a coach driver and he works six days on and two days off.

“Luckily I haven’t had a seizure in a while, but the fall detector feels like a life saver. Everyday I wear it in the house or the garden, and if I was to drop or have a seizure and I don’t answer they can send a paramedic, and I know that in less than four minutes an ambulance would be there. If not nobody would know. I could be unconscious for ages. Last time I stayed in hospital for five days because I was paralysed down one side.

“I can’t be the only one that it’s affecting, considering the number of people that use Telecare.”

Worcestershire County Council has said that although it has historically funded call alarms for some people, it made a decision in March 2012 to stop funding hardwired call alarm connections in favour of dispersed alarms.

Councillor Sheila Blagg, cabinet member for adult social care said: "We are unable to discuss individual cases. However, the county council is able to offer help with funding assistive technology, which includes call alarms, for those individuals who are eligible for adult social care.

"Eligibility is determined by people's level of need and financial circumstances in line with the law and local policy."

Ms Waterlow’s partner, Steve Smith, added: “It’s literally a life saver for her if anything was to happen, and for a 10 minute phonecall to wipe it all out after eight years of struggling is heartbreaking.”

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