COUNCIL BLASTED OVER ‘CARELESS’ ATTITUDE

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CARE firms across Fenland have blasted Cambridgeshire County Council following changes in contracts for the provision of home-based care for the elderly and other vulnerable adults.

One March-based firm claims the loss of its contract to provide 800 hours of care following a new tendering process is such a devastating blow it could even send the 15-year-old firm under.

However, Malcolm George who owns Anglia Community Support from offices in Elm Road, is determined that will not happen and his company will survive despite the huge body-blow caused by the county council’s decision to end his contract as a preferred provider.

Mr George said the county council allocation formed 90 per cent of his business and the decision to withdraw it had come as a complete shock, leaving his company fighting for survival.

Two national companies have been awarded the county council contracts and Mr George fears this could lead to a drop in standards of service.

On top of losing the majority of his company’s work Mr George is also set to lose the majority of his staff as they will move to the new contractors under TUPE - employment regulations

“They will be moved across because the council’s contracts form 90 per cent of their work. This means that our clients will have a continuation of care, but it leaves us with having to start almost from scratch. We pride ourselves on the training we give our staff. We have invested a lot of time and money ensuring our carers have the best possible training. We consider this company a family, and it is being ripped apart by this decision.

“We have never had any complaints against us. We have always done everything we have been asked to do to the highest standards and this is how we are repaid. Clients can self contract, which means they can have control of their own care budget.

“But in order for that to happen they have to be assessed and that can take up to eight weeks. We were notified on September 7 that we were unsuccessful with our bid and the new contracts come into affect from November 1, so there is not time for people to go through that process,” said Mr George, who added: “I think we have been treated quite shabbily.”

And he is not alone in his anger. Wisbech-based Sunshine HomeCare Ltd have also lost out in the tendering process.

“Yes we have lost the contract with to supply home care in the Wisbech area but fortunately Cambridgeshire work is only a small proportion of our total care packages and at this stage we don’t envisage any cut in staff,” said Sunshine’s Phil Hatton.

He said the majority of clients have applied to stick with Sunshine HomeCare but he added: “The problem we are experiencing is the time this is taking to organise, some clients have been told six to 12 weeks, we feel that Cambridgeshire County Council has pushed it through so quickly and not given clients time to organise anything.”

Stephen Manning, whose elderly mother receives care from Anglia Community Care, said he was concerned at the way the issue had been dealt with and said any changes to his mother’s provision could cause distress as she suffers from dementia and likes routine.

His family is pleased with the care provided and said they would like to stay with Anglia Community Care but is worried about what might happen in the future.

A council spokesman said: “As with all tendering processes, which are designed to ensure that the Local Authority secures services that demonstrate value for money, some organisations will be successful and others won’t be, and will no longer be placed on the council’s preferred providers list.

“We recognise that this kind of change creates uncertainty and worry for the people whose service provider will change. Wherever possible we are working with the successful providers to secure the transfer of the staff who deliver the care on a day to day basis, to the new providers. In this way, consistency of care and relationships can be maintained. We are continuing to review the impact of these changes to ensure that people receive the care they need.”