Care Cuts Worry For Paralysed Alicia, 23

A WOMAN who is paralysed from the neck down fears she will be forced to live in a nursing home because of funding cutbacks in her care.

Alicia Leston-Rama, 23, was injured in a car accident when she was two and needs a life-support machine, which breathes for her. Since she left hospital at the age of five, she has been cared for round the clock by a registered nurse and a health care assistant.

But Cardiff Local Health Board, which pays for and arranges her care, now says it costs too much. Her family have now been offered a new care package, where two less-qualified staff would look after Alicia, overseen by a qualified team leader. But her family claims that level of care is not safe and could lead to a tragedy if something goes wrong.

In a letter to Alicia, Fiona Peel, chairwoman of the LHB said: “The current care package you are receiving is far more expensive than the new package and the LHB would be failing in its duty to other patients if it were to continue to fund it.”

A new company, CPA, is due to take over her care from June 1. If Alicia, who lives in a specially-adapted house in Canton, Cardiff, with mum Sandra and sister Juanita, refuses to agree to the new care package, she might have to move into a nursing home or arrange her own package, but without the LHB’s help.

Mum Sandra, 52, said: “They promised me they would look after my girl for the rest of her life but they are back-tracking. They are making her a victim twice over. Alicia has become depressed and the worry is making me ill.”

Alicia said: “I cost too much. I want to keep what I’ve got. It’s worked so far, because I’m still alive. If it wasn’t good care I wouldn’t be here. It shouldn’t be about saving money.”

Jenny Theed, nurse director of Cardiff Local Health Board said: “We have worked hard to ensure that the patient and her family have been fully involved in discussions about what care and support is needed to ensure that all her needs would be met.

“This is not a cost-driven agenda – it’s about providing the most appropriate care for the patient. The current care package was not clinically sustainable and we have a duty of care to all Cardiff residents to ensure we provide health and social care which offers the best value for money.”

The family is organising a petition to get support for Alicia. For more information e-mail [email protected]