Care providers want investigation into service shake-up

CARE providers called last night for an investigation into Cardiff council’s controversial shake-up of its home care services.

Care Forum Wales (CFW) claimed the tendering process – which has seen the number of private care firms the authority uses to provide 80% of its home care cut from 56 to 11 – was fundamentally flawed.

CFW, which represents 550 independent care service providers, has written to the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, requesting she instructs the Chief Inspector of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales to carry out an investigation.

As well as cutting the number of contracts, the length of visits to 1,900 mostly elderly residents will be monitored with new electronic time management systems.

Earlier this month, a disabled Cardiff pensioner told the Echo she would rather die than change carers as a result of the shake-up. Kathleen Cartlidge, 73, was so upset by the authority’s plans to overhaul the current system of home care provision in the city she threatened to go on hunger strike.

Mario Kreft, CFW honorary chief executive, said there had been a lack of consultation.

Following a unanimous resolution by the ruling body of CFW, he has written to the council’s corporate director for social care, Neelam Bhardwaja, outlining the concerns.

Mr Kreft said CFW had members who had both won and lost contracts in the tender process and was speaking out because of the issues raised by service users, care workers and the public.

“The tender weighting of 50% price and 50% quality is a driver purely for the lowest price possible as opposed to genuinely wanting quality measures to ‘win out’ in any tender process,” he said.

“It is therefore clear to us that the campaign by the Assembly Government to promote dignity and respect for all users of social care services apparently has not been considered relevant to domiciliary care service users in Cardiff.”

Mr Kreft said he would also write to the Care Council for Wales about the lack of consultation and treatment of social care workers.

An Assembly Government spokesman said Ms Thomas would respond to the letter, but that it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

A Cardiff council spokesman said the authority was satisfied that the procurement process undertaken was open and transparent and complied with the procurement regulations. He said no challenges had been made to the court in relation to this procurement process for domiciliary care services.

“There has been a public scrutiny of the decision and a representative from the Care Forum Wales provided evidence to the scrutiny committee meeting,” he said. “The question has to be asked why has Care Forum Wales waited until it is outside the review period before making these further comments.”

The spokesman also said local service providers were consulted and involved in drawing up the method used for the procurement.

“The council has a responsibility to provide care for people whilst ensuring the best value for council tax payers. Bids for contracts were evaluated on a 50-50 split between cost and quality. Contracts were not awarded to all of those providers offering the lowest price,” he said.