Welcome to the Public Works blog.

Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Care packages with no staff

As Health and Social Care partnerships start their work, the delivery of outsourced social care remains a real problem.

Integration in Scotland started on 1 April 2015, with the new Health and Social Care Partnerships taking on responsibility for planning and delivering joined-up and seamless health and social care provision for adults, and also, in some areas, children’s services. Integration Schemes from each Health Board and Local Authority have been submitted and three Health and Social Care Partnerships in East, North and South Ayrshire were the first to become fully functioning under the new legislation.

One of the big challenges for the new arrangements is ensuring that there is sufficient high quality social care available. Reports from our members in many local authorities indicate that outsourced care providers are struggling to staff the service. Social workers are spending at lot of time ringing around providers to get them to deliver care packages.

Being commercial organisations we don't often hear about the internal problems they are facing. However, we got a glimpse today in a report in The Herald of an Employment Tribunal claim in which a manager was awarded over £60,000 for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

The manager, despite being told her role would be office-based, had to carry out care visits to clients before and after her regular shift because the company Primecare was short-staffed and there was no-one else to do it.

The tribunal heard that bosses told staff that they must accept any new care packages offered by the local authority, East Lothian Council, "whether or not care staff were in place to do the work".

The staffing issue became such a big problem a number of complaints were made about Primecare because carers visited late or not at all, with one client being missed off the rota for two weeks. Hardly surprising if company policy is to take the money for packages knowing that they can't staff them.

The Primecare website says they are, "developing a workforce which provides care and support with skill, compassion and imagination". Commissioners might need to look past the spin!



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