Former firefighter hits out at council cuts to his care

Raymond Ractliffe of Locks Heath suffers from MS and is angry that council cuts mean his carers have been changed
Raymond Ractliffe of Locks Heath suffers from MS and is angry that council cuts mean his carers have been changed
St James' Hospital, in Milton, has mental health services run by Solent NHS Trust.
 Picture: Sarah Standing (150538-1024)

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RETIRED fireman Raymond Ractliffe has hit out at council cost-cutting after his care package was changed.

The 58-year-old, who has multiple sclerosis, which makes it difficult for him to move around, said he had built up good relationships with his previous carers, through a company called Bluebird.

His care, which sees carers visit his Locks Heath home four times a day, was changed to a different company last month by Hampshire County Council. Mr Ractliffe said: ‘I am grateful for all the company does for me, and I’m not trying to run them down, but you get set in your ways and used to certain carers, then it is ripped away from you. It is unsettling.’

Bluebird provided care for Mr Ractliffe, who is an army veteran, for three years.

Mr Ractliffe said: ‘I knew where I was with them. The new carers are nice but I’d rather have stayed with Bluebird. It is blow, all of a sudden everything is changed.’

Mr Ractliffe was diagnosed with MS in 2000 and needs carers to help him out of bed, get changed, bathe and to move around his house.

He said he liked the stability of knowing his carers, and he criticised changes being made nationally to save money, which he says are affecting the most vulnerable.

He said: ‘This is happening all over the country. It is the state of play with care. It’s all about money.’

The council said it had written to people who receive care in February to tell them about the changes.

Cllr Liz Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care, said: ‘We’re all living longer but not necessarily in good health, which is why we are changing the way we purchase care for people who need support to live independently in their own homes.

‘We are using a smaller number of care providers so that together we can provide better quality care and improved terms and conditions for staff.

‘Our main priority through this change, is to ensure that people continue to receive quality care and support.’

She said the council was monitoring the scheme and support was available from the adult services care management team if people have complex care needs or if problems arose with the care.