Demonstrators protest against Bracknell Forest Council's decision to outsource its social care team

Published: 12 Feb 2014 14:305 comments

DEMONSTRATORS braved the cold on Saturday in a fight to try to reverse Bracknell Forest Council’s decision to outsource its social care team.

Protest to keep the council's social care team in Bracknell. Amparo Stewart with daughters Hannah Stewart Jordan (12) and Mollie Stewart Jordan (8).

Protest to keep the council's social care team in Bracknell. Amparo Stewart with daughters Hannah Stewart Jordan (12) and Mollie Stewart Jordan (8).

Family and friends of those affected by the change – including relatives of dementia suffers – plus trade unionists gathered outside the council’s Time Square offices with signs and flags to make a stand for carers and patients.

The council claims it can save up to £150,000 per year if the clients of the service – where carers visit patients in their own homes –were served by private agencies. It says some of its service has already been ‘outsourced’.

But one of the protesters, whose family is affected by the change, believes the move is “very short-sighted”. Jackie Dudley, from Martin’s Heron, whose sister has suffered with dementia for two years, said: “I am all for supporting the carers and having people the sufferers recognise. This team is superb.

“I am worried be-cause – and no offence to them – but agencies do not have the same approach. It is very important that patients are able to recognise people and they stay if they need to.

“Bracknell Forest Council is getting a reputation of not caring, and not just about this issue.”

Frank Minal, GMB’s regional organiser of the protest for East Berkshire and Surrey, said: “We hope the council will rescind its decision. The quality of care is far higher with this team than what an agency could provide This decision will put more pressure on the NHS, forcing people to move out of their homes which they are comfortable in and into care homes or hospitals.”

The council is trying to reassure patients the decision will not alter the standard of care they receive.

Cllr Dale Birch, executive member for adult services, health and housing, said: “Everyone who needs our care and support will continue to get their care. This isn’t a cut to services, this is about getting the best deal and best services for those people we help. The in-house dementia team of 11 staff now provide care support to just nine people with independent care providers delivering dementia care support to 177 residents.

“This change would mean all our dementia care would be commissioned from high-quality independent providers, just as 97% of all home care in Bracknell Forest is already successfully commissioned from the independent sector.”

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  • timespassing
    27 posts
    Feb 12, 15:37
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    Well done Councillor Dale Birch, that's another few bob you've saved the taxpayer. I'd say to award yourself a bonus but knowing this grasping Selfservative administration you probably would. What's next, meters in ambulances? Roll on next years elections and perhaps we can exchange this crowd for some councillors that care.

    Recommend?   Yes 4     No 2

  • Charlie2
    1 post
    Feb 12, 17:09
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    This is a very thoughtless decision once again for the sake of trying to save money by cutting back on the wrong thing. These poor people suffering with dementia haven't chosen to suffer and should be given the best care they can receive. Cutting back on a brilliant team who care for these vulnerable people for independent care providers is awful mistake. The independent care providers are so stretched through cut backs already barely have time to spend 10 minutes with each person which is no care at all through no fault of there own. This is down to cutting back and trying to save money. If the council looked properly they could see they are other things they could cut back on to save money, rather than the suffering. If it was a relation of there's they would want the best care and deep down know the team would provide much better care.

    Recommend?   Yes 4     No 2

  • lunnunis
    1 post
    Feb 12, 21:50
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    I was lucky my mother had these carers to look after her until she was unable to stay in her own home any longer. I wrote to the local MP and sent a letter of support to the team. Privatised services are never as good because they exist to make a profit.

    Recommend?   Yes 3     No 1

  • TomEdwards
    47 posts
    Feb 13, 17:26
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    Why is thoughtless?? This costs a fortune - and if the Council can outsource it to deliver a service under a contract that is equal or better to what is being delivered now but for a reduction in price .. Who cares! The key to this is guaranteeing to the small number of users that the service will be the same or better!

    Actually Timepassing - i agree, Well done indeed!!! Has anyone notice that Wokingham are putting up their Council tax by 2% AGAIN ... Bracknell Forest hasn't increased for 3 years. If tax is frozen, and costs increase, then savings will need to be found. Change is not always bad!

    I think the Council has done this before - domiciliary care? no-one seems to moan about that anymore and i recall that the council went to great lengths to help the team set-up their own business to supply the SAME service as before?!

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 2

  • timespassing
    27 posts
    Feb 14, 18:18
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    You said it yourself Tom, "Why is thoughtless?? This costs a fortune - and if the Council can outsource it to deliver a service under a contract that is equal or better to what is being delivered now but for a reduction in price".

    If it was equal or better then fair enough but is it? Several reputable care providers will no longer bid on council contracts because they say they cannot provide a safe service at the price. I personally don't think a service is about rushing in and out and in ten minutes to get someone up, bathed, dressed, fed, and dumped in a chair for the day. You can cut services so far to save money but eventually all you are cutting are services.

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0