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Halt NHS Highland Home Care Outsourcing

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

GMB Scotland Call On NHS Highland To Halt Phased Outsourcing Of 1,200 Hours Per Week Of Home Care From NHS To Private Sector

NHS Highland should seek more Scottish Government funding to address the serious lack of resources throughout the adult care sector says GMB Scotland.

GMB Scotland, the union for care workers, has written to NHS Highland objecting to plans to outsource 1,200 hours per week of home care to private contractors. This care is currently delivered by GMB Scotland members employed by NHS Highlands. See notes to editors for copy of letter to Elaine Mead, Chief Executive NHS Highland from GMB Scotland dated 19th October 2015.

The plan is for the first 330 hours per week to be outsourced by October 2015 and for the outsourcing to be completed by end March 2016.  The NHS Highlands area is to be divided into up to 35 zones for the purpose of these outsourced contracts. The outsourcing is to be phased in across the region with private firms working alongside NHS direct workers until the outsourcing is completed.

In house staff will transfer to private providers under TUPE legislation. That will not be the case for 26 carers who now walk from house to house. They will be required to learn to drive or face redeployment or redundancy.

Liz Gordon, GMB Scotland Regional Officer, says in the letter “GMB Scotland has always maintained a resistance to the introduction of outsourcing within NHS Highland and we will continue to do so.

We consider that this calculated run-down of the in house service in favour of the reportedly more economical care will not prove to be cost efficient in the long term.  

It has been acknowledged that the NHS Care at Home service will shrink through the natural wastage of posts.  Surely leaving the in-house sector depleted in the short term, while the private commissioned care firms (partners) have not yet recruited sufficient staff. This leaves both private and NHS care bodies are under-resourced.

Now that matters have progressed to the point that the NHS is implementing these changes GMB Scotland will be broadening its campaign to protect all remaining care services to the elderly and other marginalised and vulnerable groups in the Highlands.

Capacity in both in-house and private sector is at present woefully inadequate.  Many elderly are dependent upon “invisible” carers – family members, neighbours, friends, etc rather than have access to the mandated free personal and essential in-house care which they have every right to expect from the NHS. 

With regard to the communities surrounding Inverness, now to be called The Moray Firth Region, GMB Scotland understands that the independent care firms favour taking over packages of care in these more lucrative, densely populated areas of Highland.   GMB deplores the situation whereby independent partner firms are reluctant to take on the more remote areas of Highland, which in-house care at home has always managed to staff.

GMB Scotland, while well aware of budget constraints, feels strongly that NHS Highland, along with other regions throughout Scotland should be seeking (if not demanding) more Scottish Government funding to address the serious lack of  resources throughout the adult care sector.”

End

Contact: Liz Gordon on 01463 233088 or 07920 838588 or Mick Conroy 07921 289 737 or GMB press office 07921 289880.

Notes to editors

Copy of letter from GMB Scotland:

Elaine Mead, Chief Executive NHS Highland, Assynt House, Beechwood Business Park, Inverness, IV2 3BW.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Dear Elaine Mead,

I write to highlight GMB Scotland concerns over the redesign of the Home Care Service. It is our view that the present outsourcing of parts of the NHS Care at Home Service to the private sector is being done without full regard for the long terms consequences.

It has been acknowledged by the Redesign Group that the NHS Care at Home service will shrink through the natural wastage of posts.  Surely leaving the in-house sector depleted in the short term, while the private commissioned care firms (partners) have not yet recruited sufficient staff. This leaves both private and NHS care bodies are under-resourced. 

It is our understanding;

The client group is already suffering a dearth of care provision, a point discussed and evidenced at various meetings.  

The eventual transfer of all long-term Care at Home clients – now to be termed “maintenance” clients, to the private sector has come as a shock to our members within the NHS workforce, and is causing, what should have been, avoidable stress and anxiety.  

The re-designed role of “Enablement worker” left for in-house carers is not seen as a move to the stated Service of Excellence, but rather as a tool to solve the delayed discharge situation within the Highlands’ hospitals.

Capacity in both in-house and private sector is at present woefully inadequate.  Many elderly are dependent upon “invisible” carers – family members, neighbours, friends, etc rather than have access to the mandated free personal and essential in-house care which they have every right to expect from the NHS. 

With regard to the communities surrounding Inverness now to be called The Moray Firth Region. GMB Scotland understands that the Independent care firms favour taking over packages of care in these more lucrative, densely populated areas of Highland.   GMB Scotland deplores the situation whereby independent partner firms are reluctant to take on the more remote areas of Highland, which in-house Care at Home has always managed to staff.

We consider that this calculated run-down of the in house service in favour of the reportedly more economical care will not prove to be cost efficient in the long term.  

GMB Scotland while well aware of budget constraints, feels strongly that NHS Highland, along with other regions throughout Scotland should be seeking (if not demanding) more Scottish Government funding to address the serious lack of  resources throughout the Adult Care sector.

Where Re-design has already been started, significant issues are coming to the fore;

Walking staff are not being given the option to TUPE over to a new (partner) provider, instead they are being asked to learn to drive or redeploy.  GMB Scotland will be expecting the stated “innovative solutions” for walkers to be fully explored with each individual and for senior management to listen to the suggestions of carers and operational officers who have collectively given their clients many years of faithful service.

In principle the concept of Enablement is laudable, however, not all current staff wish to make the transition from ‘Care at Home worker’ to ‘Enablement or Reablement worker’ (we understand there is some confusion as to the new job title).   GMB Scotland expects that similar negotiations, as those for walking staff, will be entered into for any and all carers for whom Enablement is not a chosen option.

GMB Scotland is alarmed to hear from members that on-the-spot Enablement training was mooted recently. This is not a satisfactory alternative to full and rigorous Enablement training, on the grounds of heightened risk and loss of dignity, for both client and carer.

GMB Scotland has always maintained a resistance to the introduction of outsourcing within NHS Highland and we will continue to do so.

Now that matters have progressed to the point that the NHS is implementing these changes,  GMB Scotland will be broadening its campaign to protect all remaining Care Services to the elderly and other marginalised and vulnerable groups in the Highlands.

Yours sincerely

Liz Gordon, GMB Scotland Organiser

 

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