A frontline team — which provides vital care to the sick and vulnerable during the night on the Isle of Wight — is to be halved.
A decision was made by the Isle of Wight Council in the 2019/20 budget to save £2 million in adult social care, including a £102,000 budget reduction of the Night Outreach Team.
However, only now is the cut being implemented.
Replace half the carers with equipment
This will replace half the carers with equipment and machines — meaning only two people will be on duty across the whole Island on any night.
The Isle of Wight Council said the service was redesigned as it needed to change — providing care in less intrusive ways, utilising new technology, such as beds to turn patients in the night, with dignity and privacy paramount.
Staff say senior managers and cllrs do not want to talk to them
Patients have already seen the introduction of new equipment, but the team has said it does not work and expressed concerns cuts could add pressure on paramedics and social workers.
Members of the team say they feel senior managers and councillors do not want to talk to them and hoped someone would fight for them.
“The councillors made a decision and they were wrong.
“They have been advised they can get rid of us but they don’t know what we do, or how valuable we are to people.
“They keep saying social care is important but they are focusing on money, not people.”
Unison: A systematic starvation of service users
Mark Chiverton, Unison representative at the council, said there had been a systematic starvation of service users as council bosses told other care providers not to refer people to the service.
The Isle of Wight Council said, however, the demand for the service has fallen due to the alternative equipment and technology being deployed.
Tozer: Equipment removes need for a carer
Dr Carol Tozer, the council’s director of adult social care, said the Care Close to Home strategy focused on promoting independence, investing in technology to meet people’s needs.
“We have invested in beds which can automatically turn people at regular intervals minimising the risk of developing pressure sores and removing the need for a carer to have to physically attend the person during the night.”
Before the cuts were proposed, the night team used to care for 34 regular clients, before any extra crisis calls, but this number has fallen to seven in the past 18 months as new users have dried up.
More Islanders chose equipment over traditional care
Dr Tozer said a review of the service was undertaken due to more Islanders choosing equipment over traditional care and with funding pressures in adult social care, nationally and locally, this has meant the council has had to make best use of every penny and pound available.
Mr Chiverton said the decision was wrong, dangerous and had not been thought through, ‘a hidden cut with no real public debate about the consequences of cutting the service’.
“We want to see more open debate on this, involving the staff and councillors, so there can be a better understanding of what would be lost and how that might impact elsewhere within health and social care.”
The team are now trying to stop the cut, which could be enforced from the end of September, and are hoping to meet with Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, and senior members of the council.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed