Concerns for future of care in Portsmouth as floor of home to close
CONCERNS about the future of care provision in Portsmouth have been raised, with the council set to close a floor of one of its homes.
The city council is due to 'phase out' the top floor of Shearwater care home, in Southsea, ultimately losing 20 beds - with the 'hope' that staff will be redeployed in other jobs.
It comes as part of wider budget plans to save £300,000 across adult social care, with half of this from the changes at Shearwater, despite the fact an extra £2.8m has been allocated to the portfolio for 2021/22.
Councillor Matthew Winnington, the council's adult social care boss, explained why the decision had been taken. He said: 'Over the last three years the adult social care budget in Portsmouth has grown by over £7m, a decision made by Portsmouth councillors despite government cuts to council funding.
'We value adult social care so much that we have moved extra money into area.
'There's currently a risk that some private care homes may become unviable, and extra council placements can help stabilise this situation.
'Residents at Shearwater won't be moving homes as a result of the proposal - as spare beds arise we'll move residents to different rooms until the floor is empty.
'The empty floor will be used for activities and provide emergency capacity for the city. We hope to redeploy affected staff across council care homes.'
But the Portsmouth branch of the trade union Unite raised fears about relying on the private sector.
Rich White, regional political officer for Unite, said: 'The council is essentially moving those beds to the private sector.
'People working in private care homes could be on zero hour contracts, paid minimum wage and will have no pension.
'By outsourcing it the staff costs are kept low - that's why they're doing it. That's inconsistent with the council's bid to become a living wage employer.
'Care is in demand, there's a demand for those beds.'
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He added: 'Ultimately we want to see more in-house care provision but we're losing it quite quickly, with the closures of Edinburgh House and Hilsea Lodge.
'Private care homes might be cheaper to use now but when you lose council-beds private care homes can put their prices up because there's less competition.'
Labour councillor, Cal Corkery, said the equivalent of 12.5 full-times jobs would be affected.
'The justification seems to be entirely financial,' he said.
'Our concern is also around the quality of services and ensuring the council is doing all it can to provide good quality care.'
The 2021/22 budget, which included the £150,000 savings from Shearwater, was approved by the council on February 9.