Illness led to delays in Carmarthenshire’s social care, says chief

COUNCIL social care bosses have admitted staff sickness and stress resulted in delays in moving patients from hospital back into the community.

Figures for June show, in the authority’s social care department, there were 37 cases of delayed transfer of care of patient from wards into community-based care.

This compares to 17 in June last year.

Speaking at a health and social care scrutiny meeting, Carmarthenshire’s head of integrated, services Sheila Porter, said a staff restructure and shifting of posts among frontline care workers had lead to sick leave resulting in cases being delayed.

She said the figures were uncomfortable, but the situation had improved.

She added: “The summer was a difficult period for us, with a restructuring of staff.

“It meant some staff were off work, which meant cases were not dealt as swiftly as they otherwise would have been. Members of staff were affected by the changes in their work and having to move to other parts of the county, which resulted in them going off work with stress.”

Health scrutiny board member councillor Steve Dunn said he was aware of someone having to wait more than a month to see a social worker, and questioned what emergency cover was available to ensure cases did not get delayed longer than necessary.

Mrs Porter said: “Some do not adapt well to changes, and we do not have the resources to cover sickness and absence, the same as we do not for annual leave.”

Council head of adult services Gareth John said while agency staff are looked at to cover social care work during staff absences, cost is a major factor in employing them.

He said: “The situation we are faced with is having to pay up to twice as much to an agency worker to cover a sick member of staff.”