I WAS saddened to read your news report appertaining to the Deane Helpline service (‘No one there to help us’, County Gazette, March 7).

I have been paying lots of money myself into this helpline for many years and have experienced some of their shortcomings.

On one occasion, I fell very ill during the night and pressed the emergency alarm button, to be told a doctor would be shortly on his way.

Two to three hours went by, no doctor had called, so I contacted them again.

The same response: a doctor will be with you shortly.

Again, no doctor.

My condition got worse and on this occasion of contacting, was told to phone the 111 service.

Luckily, a friend phoned me about a social arrangement for the next day. She was soon aware how poorly I was and phoned straight away for an ambulance.

The Deane Helpline’s excuse was that they were very, very busy.

That may well have been the case.

However, reading the report in your paper of Rachael brought all this back to me.

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I am currently paying more than £300 a year into the Deane Helpline and their charges are going up again on April 1 by 2 per cent. It went up by more than £11 a quarter yearly payment only two years ago. Yes, it’s a safety net for many senior citizens, even more so when you live alone.

They’ve got to get their act together.

Straight away, they say they’re a non-profit organisation.

Even allowing for tight council budgets, it’s concerning when you read in your report that there was no responders in the office to attend a dire emergency.

This adverse publicity about the helpline will deter people from paying into it.

It falls short of value for money and I don’t buy the argument that they haven’t got the financial resources to have more responders available to attend emergency calls.