Unison criticises NHS Warrington over care home contract

HEALTH union Unison has criticised NHS Warrington for awarding a care contract to a company that does not yet have a building to house patients in.

The provider of care at the Oakdene Unit in Culcheth is being switched from 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust to a private body on July 1.

The handover was meant to take place on April 1, said Brian Morris, Unison north west branch secretary, but was pushed back as the new provider awaits full registration from the Healthcare Commission, the health watchdog.

Mr Morris said NHS Warrington should have commissioned a provider that was ready to take over the contract.

“It is not showing the commissioning arm in a good light,” he said.

It is not the first time Mr Morris has spoken out over the contract for Oakdene, which cares for the elderly mentally ill.

When the preferred bidder was announced, following the tendering process, it did not have a building in which to house the patients nor planning permission to build one, his Unison newsletter claimed.

When the new provider takes over the contract it will use the same building as 5 Boroughs did, even though Mr Morris says the building was proclaimed to be not fit for purpose by NHS Warrington when 5 Boroughs tendered to continue its care.

The current Oakdene building will only be used temporarily while a new, purpose built area is completed, a spokesman for NHS Warrington said.

“The plans for Oakdene are going ahead as originally agreed and planned,” the spokesman said.

“However, there has been a slight delay, which is not uncommon when dealing with service transfers where patient care and continuity of care is at the forefront.

“This delay does not in any way affect the position of staff and all staff will transfer to the new providers as agreed on July 1.

“Over the past few months there have been many very positive discussions with staff and the new provider and we can confirm that no staff are at risk due to this transfer of this service.”