A LIFELINE for hundreds of people suffering with dementia in Flintshire is under threat.
Charity bosses, health workers and sufferers’ families have united to call for the Admiral Nurses services in Flintshire to be saved.
Admiral Nurses, who look after Alzheimer’s sufferers and their carers, could be axed unless health chiefs scrape together enough money to save them.
The outcry comes as the Leader reveals the extent of the growing dementia problem across the region.
Funding for the team was initially secured from the Big Lottery Grant, but the money has now run out leaving the future of the service in the hands of the newly-established Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
The uncertainty led to one nurse being forced to leave her post to find more secure employment, leaving her colleague Carol Mortimer to cover the whole county.
She said: “We currently look after 36 families and have 18 on the waiting list, but we have helped between 150 and 180.
“For us it is as much about the carer as it is about the sufferer and we help them come to terms with a dementia diagnosis.
“It would be a real shame if the carers had to lose our support.”
The service was set up by the former Flintshire Local Health Board and charity ForDementia in 2007 and there is only enough charity funding to sustain it until March.
Jacky Baldini, chairman of the Flintshire branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It would be absolutely disastrous if we lost the Admiral Nurses.
“The Alzheimer’s Society would do all it could to support them, but it wouldn’t be the same.
“They are absolutely crucial and we are just hoping something can be done to save them.”
The service has also been praised by Bill Tuer, of Eryrys, near Mold, who spent years caring for his late wife Marjorie.
He produced a booklet about his experiences, called Caring For Marjorie when he became her full-time carer.
She died shortly after the Admiral Nurses were appointed, but 88-year-old Bill said the support they offer would have been invaluable to him.
He added: “It’s absolutely ridiculous that it could be taken away. I really could have done with help from someone like that when I was looking after Marjorie.”
North Wales AM Mark Isherwood has written to health board chief executive Mary Burrows to raise the issue.
A spokesman for the university health board said the Flintshire scheme has never been funded by the NHS and a decision on its future should be made within the next six weeks.
He added: “The lottery funding has now run out and an evaluation report and a business case for the NHS to take over funding of the service has been presented to the health board in North Wales.
“The health board is considering this application for funding as part of our planning process for the new financial year, starting in April 2010.
“Given the pressures on public finances all applications for new NHS service developments need to be carefully prioritised within the funding that is made available.
“The timetable for these planning processes are determined by the Welsh Assembly Government.
“There have not been any delays with this and the health board has previously advised ForDementia that we will be able to let them know the outcomes of this work, and whether we are in a position to take on the funding of this service, by the end of February.”