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Privatising elderly's care will cost 70 jobs; But union says staff more worried about plans' impact on people they look after.

Byline: TOM BODDEN

PLANS to privatise home care services for the vulnerable in Wrexham could cost up to 70 jobs, a union leader warned yesterday.

Officials in Wrexham council say they are consulting with staff over the shake-up, including the transfer of long-term care to the independent sector.

The council said up to 50 front line and management posts involved could be offered alternative employment within the council or voluntary redundancy.

The number of home care hours would fall from 2,450 to 1,300.

But public service union Unison said the change would leave Wrexham council as the only county in Wales to completely privatise its home care.

Union official Steve Hibbert said some of the workers whose jobs are at risk would be offered posts in the 'reablement service, which is a short-term help at home to prevent the need for hospital and bed blocking.

Mr Hibbert said: "The staff have been horrified. The council are trying to mitigate their concerns by saying they will do everything they can to find alternative work.

"But staff are concerned about the people they care for in the community because they know how much the private sector fails them."

He said that the recent collapse of the national private care home company Southern Cross had shown the risks of putting care of the most vulnerable people into the hands of private companies.

The union said that while reablement is a service that will save a significant amount for the NHS, they are only expected to contribute less than 10% to the cost. "The NHS is the largest budget holder in Wales and our home care staff are now expected to subsidise it, not only with their taxes but ultimately their jobs.

"Councillors have sleep walked into this as there has been no scrutiny or executive board decision to support this proposal."

Phil Gilroy, head of Wrexham adult services, confirmed the council was considering increasing the amount of reablement and transferring the remaining long-term care to the independent sector, most of whom are small or medium enterprises with a local presence.

"Currently, over 80% of home care is provided by the independent sector, with regular contract monitoring arrangements, including discussions with people using the services, identifying very high satisfaction levels," he said.

"Reablement provides support to people, mainly still in their own homes, who have had some sort of crisis, building up their skills and confidence to enable them to continue to live in their own home with as much independence as possible.

"The service is jointly funded by the council and the local health board."

The new service would be phased in from September to March.

tombodden@dailypost.co.uk
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 20, 2011
Words:449
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