A DOG walker claims she is owed £750 by the NHS – after spending the last six weeks waiting to be paid.

Bonnie Cowdrey takes in dogs when their owners are admitted to hospital, charging £25 a day for the service.

Mrs Cowdrey says this is not the first time she has had problems with payments from the NHS.

She claims that in May 2019, it took two to three months before getting paid in two instalments.

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Then, on March 1 this year, she took over the care of a dog, until March 31.

She then sent an invoice on April 6, but has still not been paid.

“I took the dog into my home, charging £25 per day which is the standard rate but because I knew the dog and the owner, I didn’t bill for food which would usually be supplied by the owner,” she said.

“I’ve been given a total runaround, everyone is nice but people have given my case from one person to another.

“I’ve been told they’re sorry it’s happened again.”

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Mrs Cowdrey said the issue has led to other dog walkers having doubts about offering their services.

She said: “I have to reassure the client I would take the dog again if they have to go to the hospital again in the future.

“I know a lot of dog walkers that are being put off by this, saying they will never do it again.”

Mrs Cowdrey has been working on behalf of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

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A spokesperson for the trust said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases for reasons of confidentiality.

“However, we are working to resolve the situation.”

The spokesperson explained that where people are able to protect, or make their own arrangements to protect their property, then they are required to do this.

However, the spokesperson added that Oxford Health has ‘a duty under the Care Act for adults with mental health needs to take reasonable steps to protect people’s property if they are unable to do so themselves when they are admitted to a care setting until they are able to take over arrangements themselves’.

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Mrs Cowdrey has been a dog walker for almost 20 years.

While the coronavirus pandemic has seen a lot of her work dry up, she said the case with Oxford Health has created further problems.

She said: “My work went out the window in the last year and I’m waiting for this money, it’s a lot of money.

“I’ve not been able to walk the dogs of my clients because they’re still working from home so they’re happy to walk their dogs.

“It’s been a tough year, and although it was stressful last time [in 2019] it’s more stressful this time round following the year we’ve had.

“What concerns me is what happens to these animals if people don’t want to look after them, not everyone has a family or friend to take in an animal.

“For a lot of people, their animal is as important as their child, and with this client, this is the case.”