Vulnerable ‘being let down’ over Bradford social care helpline

One in three people phoning a Bradford Council helpline to request social care are not having their calls answered, according to a new report.

The situation has been branded “appalling” by one member of a scrutiny committee which is poised to look into the issue.

The Council’s Adult Services Access Point acts as a first point-of-call when an elderly or disabled person needs social care help.

People phoning up include the elderly and disabled people themselves as well as neighbours, GPs, relatives and even the police.

But the number of calls going unanswered is growing year-on-year.

The team’s target is to answer at least three-quarters of calls. In 2010/11, it answered 73 per cent, in 2011/12 it answered 64 per cent and in 2012/13 it answered 63 per cent.

Problems with the phone line were flagged up a year ago and an action plan was put in place, but since then the situation appears to have got worse.

Last month, a new low of only 58 per cent of calls were being answered. On average, 2,600 calls go unanswered each month.

The issue will be discussed at a meeting of the health and social care overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday.

Councillor Michael Walls (Con, Queensbury), who sits on the committee, said: “The arrangements for answering these calls need vastly altering. It’s appalling really.

“You would expect there would be some urgency to these calls. I think it’s awful that somebody’s having to wait.”

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley), also a committee member, said she thought it was a symptom of a wider problem within the Council’s adult services department.

She said: “What we are seeing is a crisis in social care in Bradford. More and more people are trying to get help and more and more families are being let down.”