Sunday, 5 February 2012

Privatisation of Care homes in Medway Demo

Outside the Pentagon yesterday
Yesterday the Trade Union Against the Cuts (socialist Workers party) organised a march to protest against the Closure of the elderly Care homes in Medway and attracted support from the Save Nelson Court group, the Liberal Democrats, Labour, the Greens, and the most important – the public in what Councillor Maple (lab) described as;
A true Coalition, a Coalition against the cuts.
I’m not saying that in this period of Austerity and shrinking economy that National and Local government has to make tough decisions, economise and try and save money tragically wielding the axe - I’m not question that, indeed it has to be done . What I am questioning is where the axe will fall.
In that respect I completely agree with Geoff.
In his column in Party People (Medway Messenger 3rd February) entitled Councils must look closer to home over cuts, Councillor Juby outlines that the Medway Council is still spending money on
Holds onto its prestige positions for favoured Councillors while getting rid of front line staff.
As I understand it from sources close to the campaign, the very basic steps of inside streamlining within the facilities has not even been taken and that staff, who are concerned by the term “outsourcing” are really willing to take steps to do this. This is because “Outsourcing” is a terrifying prospect for public sector workers. Yeah it could end well and you get a good pension and employer but it could also mean the complete opposite. The only guarantee is that your current contract is honoured by the new Private company for up to a year. So even though they are motivated by the concern for the patient’s care they are also motivated to save their jobs. After all a privately run home will be trying to make a profit and will “trim the fat”, pay less, work them harder (as my Mum found when she started working for a private home) and even “tactically redeploy” staff to other owned facilities nearby.
Councillor Murray (lab) also outlines similar concerns about the Privatisation of the homes. In a recent Medway messenger report it was exposed that several of the privately run homes voicing concerns about standards in the privately run Winchester House and Friston House. She reminds the Council that there is less regulation in the Private sector and inspections no where near as regular. It is a genuine concern that standards for patients will slip – it is not a case of opposition parties starting rumours to cause problems.
As accountability in the private sector is less regulated, many private homes refuse potential clients and their families the right to drop in unplanned when trying to choose a home.
There is also the possibility that places will become limited and that prices will rise as the private company tries to make money and stay above water. Councillor Jarrett said in Party People at the end of last year that all the homes were increasingly uneconomic and that the Balfour centre was hemorrhaging numbers of users - in fact it is around a third but I think he and the Council maybe missing the point. If they followed Geoff's suggestion and cut back their expenditure "in house" (both at the homes and in Gun Wharf itself) they may find the extra money to keep them open. I have heard rumours that I cannot confirm or deny, that the Council has already pre-budgeted for a successful consultation and the privatising of these homes - I would suggest that this could make a mockery of the whole consultation process if it is true and that they will only hear what they want to hear. Lets hope it is false. They also have a duty to the elderly members of our community and to help provide for them. Yes Privatisation and Outsourcing are an alternative but surely trying to provide the best care possible is the best way and that is clearly under Council control.

As Jac Berry of the TUAC said at the demo; The Council are being short sighted in its privatisation - we are going to get old and it will be the next generation and their children that will suffer if this is removed.

 The Demonstration, petitions and voiced concerns by Medway's opposition parties and Councillors from a cross spectra of parties shows that the people of Medway are really concerned about this and their fears are grounded in reality and not just in political hype.
I hope the council follows the Conservative Leader's example stops and listens to a Big society that has voiced its concerns before thinking again and reconsiders all of its options carefully rather than plowing ahead.

1 comment:

  1. You touch on some good points in your post here. I think any questions are best discussed with a professional. This care home put some of my worries to bed.
    Care homes in Kent