The meals on wheels service provided by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) has been withdrawn from many parts of Scotland and will cease entirely by the end of the year, as RVS says it can no longer ensure the service is safe and sustainable.
The meal delivery service, which provides a lifeline to thousands of elderly and disabled people, has now ended in Moray, Argyll and Bute, Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire.
In recent years an increasing number of councils throughout the UK have withdrawn subsidies, and the service operated by the RVS has dwindled. Alternative services being signposted include lunch clubs, frozen meal deliveries and a variety of home care packages, but there is widespread concern the move will lead to more incidences of hospital admissions through malnutrition, increased loss of independence and a greater demand for care home beds.
The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) is a passionate advocate of meals on wheels services and has been campaigning for a number of years to save this service which is so much more than just a meal.
RVS told BBC News that a lack of support from local authorities had forced them to cut services. Director Sam Ward said: “We lost a number of the services for a number of reasons. Some of them it’s because the local authorities have gone out to tender and commercial companies have come into that space and taken those services.
“In other cases, because of all the pressures on the finances of local authorities, they’ve decided that they aren’t going to actually continue with these contracts.”
Over the last few years RVS has gone from having over 80 services down to seven in Scotland and only 15 across the whole of the UK.
Sam added: “It’s just become more and more difficult for us to actually support these services and help people deliver them safely on the ground.”