Staff may take over York council care service

COUNCIL staff could be given the chance to bid for the running of a care service for elderly people in York as it faces privatisation.

City of York Council is planning to outsource its reablement services, which are aimed at helping older residents live independent lives.

It says the move would save about £1.2 million a year and provide hundreds of hours of extra care.

But the proposals, which the authority’s executive yesterday agreed to take forward, have come under fire. Unions have described them as being based on “flawed assumptions” and have called for a rethink.

The council will now search for private firms to take on the service, but its operation could also be open to offers from a mutual group of council staff who are involved with the reablement network, social enterprises and health organisations such as York Hospital.

Officers say outsourcing the service could allow 1,012 hours of contact with users for the same cost as the 602 hours currently provided, and staff could transfer to a new provider or take pay-offs.

Coun Jonathan Morley, executive member for health and adult social services, said: “An increase in the reablement service would bring considerable benefits for our residents, but that increase will not pay for itself. There are a number of providers capable of operating it at a cost which an in-house service cannot.”

Pete Dwyer, director of adults, children and education, said: “This opportunity to significantly increase the service is one we did not want to miss, and evidence shows there is no concern it would not match the quality of in-house provision.”

But Unison branch secretary Heather McKenzie said the proposals should be suspended to allow an independent financial assessment and to look at “other models of delivery” apart from privatisation.

Micklegate councillor Sandy Fraser accused the executive of “blindly ploughing ahead” with the move, describing previous private sector care ventures in York as a “disaster”.