Government urged to stop care home closures
13 January 2018, 07:53
The Scottish Government is being urged to step in and prevent care company Bield from "abandoning" scores of elderly people by closing its 12 nursing homes in Scotland.
The firm announced its plans in October, saying that financial constraints meant it had to look differently at how the business operates.
Unison has warned the closures would be a "disaster", as 160 elderly people will lose their home and up to 200 care workers face compulsory redundancy.
The union has been campaigning against the proposals, and has arranged a public meeting in Glasgow for relatives to voice their concerns.
Bield, a not-for-profit organisation, is to shut its homes in Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Borders, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian. Unison suggests this could happen by the summer.
John Gallacher, the union's Scottish organiser, said it had been working to support affected families and was "lobbying hard for intervention" to stop the closures.
He said: "We are disappointed that Scottish Government ministers seem content to stand by and let the closures happen, when the lives of vulnerable elderly people are at risk, and the jobs of essential care workers in many Scottish communities are being jettisoned. If it goes ahead it will be a disaster."
Integrated joint boards, set up by the government to be responsible for health and social care in difference areas, should be "subjected to proper political and public scrutiny and held accountable for allowing such damaging developments to take place within ridiculously short timescales," Mr Gallacher added.
"The public meeting on Saturday will again call for action on Bield's abandonment of residential elderly care," he said.
Announcing the closure plans, Bield said it had "'made the very difficult decision to withdraw from the residential care home market''.
Bosses said: "'This is a fundamental step and one which we do not take lightly, but it is in the best interests of the long-term future and sustainability of our organisation."
The company described the withdrawal of care home services as "very much a last resort option", saying it had been unable to find a viable long-term alternative.
It stressed it was aware of the ''serious impact'' the move would have on residents, their families and those working in the homes and was working to minimise this "as far as possible".
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We recognise how unsettling this decision has been for all the residents, families and employees affected.
"We are working with Bield and all relevant agencies to ensure that residents' care needs continue to be met.
"The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport is due to meet the chief executive of Bield Housing and Care later this month to discuss progress."