A GROUP which supports stroke victims and carers could be forced to close within weeks if it cannot find more cash to keep it going.
Shipley Stroke Group has received the "devastating" news that its funding has been slashed by half by NHS Bradford District Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - leaving it struggling to cover annual running costs of up to £30,000.
The service, which started 17 years ago, was initially funded by the Primary Care Trust, which was replaced by the CCG in April 2013.
In 2011/12, its £35,000 funding was cut to £19,000 and now it has been reduced again to £9,420 per year - or £2, 355 per quarter - which it will receive until September, when the CCG intends to have procured a district-wide stroke service by.
Co-chairmen Helen Galtress and Mick Speed are looking at how the group can keep going, including two staff members becoming voluntary workers and the possibility of cutting weekly sessions to fortnightly ones.
But even then the group would not be able to cover the costs of tutors and helpers.
Mrs Galtress said she was "not going down without a fight".
"We're trying so hard to keep this group going because of the importance of it. Our members are devastated," she said.
Mr Speed, who is also a volunteer with the Stroke Association and a member of Bradford's Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Partnership, added: "Some of the members have been in tears. If groups like ours fold for whatever reason, then those people are not going to get the support that is needed."
Mrs Galtress said the group could now only survive "a matter of weeks". Members and families have been fundraising and making donations on top of subs they pay, but much more is needed.
The group has about 40 members and meets weekly at Haworth Road Methodist Church, so people can chat to others in the same situation and join activities to help their condition, such as painting, exercise classes or singing, and also runs sessions for carers and trips and weekly coffee mornings.
A spokesman for Bradford Districts CCG said it had been reviewing all its commissioning intentions for the next two years.
"Due to the group being unsuccessful during our grant process, we extended their funding by three months [until the end of June] while the review, which involved consultation with the group and other service users and carers, took place.
"We have now decided to jointly commission, across all three CCGs and with the local authority; a Stroke Information and Support Service to offer a range of support to the 600 people in the district who suffer strokes each year. Part of this new service will include stroke support groups.
“All our current providers, including Shipley Stroke Group, will be told when the procurement goes live and out to advert. In the meantime, we have extended the group’s funding for a further three months."
He added that the CCG had to prioritise which services could be funded from limited money available.