Plan to cut back on care for the elderly is rejected

Local Democracy Reporter

They proposed stopping any more elderly people from being admitted to homes, culling all new home care packages, and getting rid of temporary and bank staff.

However, the cut backs, which were put forward to claw back £3.3 million of overspent cash for the year, were rejected by South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).

Councillor Hugh Hunter who was among those who voted against them said: “Who goes to jail if somebody dies? We don’t mess about with people’s lives.”

As of December 5, 62 people were marooned in hospital beds after their discharge was delayed because no care was available. And a council report warned that putting care home places and packages in the firing line would have led to more delayed discharges.

The cuts were put before the Integration Joint Board as part of a recovery plan to tackle a South Ayshire Health and Social Care Partnership overspend. However, with that recovery plan considered unacceptable the board now needs the NHS and the council to bail the service out.

The dire financial situation has been escalated to council chief executive Eileen Howat and a special Leadership Panel meeting took place just before Christmas. Ms Howat has set up an SOS team to look at the operation, telling the Leadership Panel, that there isn’t going to be a “quick fix”. 

Council leader Douglas Campbell said the financial situation is not sustainable: “It is about how the whole HSCP works.”

Councillor Ian Cochrane said: “This service deals with some of the most vulnerable residents in South Ayrshire. We need to take steps to address this quickly. We can’t let it roll on and on. The sooner the better.”

A team will carry out a £200,000 review of health and social care operations and budget. If the matter can’t be sorted out it could pass to independent mediators and eventually be escalated to Scottish Ministers.

Councillor Hunter accused the council of giving the HSCP less funding saying: “It is robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The  proposed cuts and subsequent risks rejected by the Integration Joint Board included:

*No further admissions to care homes would cause risks to safety, health and wellbeing, reputation, put pressure on unpaid carers and cause an increase in delayed discharge. A report to the Integration Joint Board said: “Older people who were living at home requiring 24/7 care would be unable to access it and, therefore, be at significant risk.”

*Stopping all new home care home packages posed safety, health and wellbeing risks and could cause an increase in delayed discharge.

*A freeze on all current South Ayrshire and NHS vacancies would cause a safety, regulatory compliance and reputation risk.

*Ceasing  contracts for temporary staff and stopping the use of NHS bank and agency staff would cause a safety, regulatory compliance and reputation risk.

*Stopping spend on housing adaptations could result in delayed hospital discharge. It would likely jeopardise personal safety, health and wellbeing and would put pressure on unpaid carers.

*No spend on respite care between January to March would impact adversely on unpaid carers.