The Tories and care homes

Still more news of ‘service reconfigurations’ from Warwickshire County Council. Not fire stations (that’s for another post), but care homes for the elderly.

On Tuesday, the Coventry Telegraph reported Ten care homes to be axed in Warwickshire? which told us that John Bolton, the interim director of Adult Services at Warks CC, had been in charge of similar plans in Coventry in recent years. The closures could save up to £4 million a year, and the issue has been brought up because of the impending cuts in central government funding.

On Wednesday, the Telegraph had an updated story – The future of 10 Warwickshire care homes could be in jeopardy – which includes more information about the possible impact. There are 240 residents in the ten homes, plus another 40 people who use the same buildings as respite. The closures would be phased over ‘several years’, and the idea is to replace the service with Extra Care Housing (ECH) places.

ECH is a lot cheaper, and while it does give the more active elderly residents more independence, it is not always appropriate for everyone, at least that’s what the Chief Executive of Age Concern said.

And yesterday (Thursday), there was a further report on the Telegraph’s website – People have ‘nothing to fear over care home closures’ says council chief which tells us that the new ECH places would be provided by ‘independent organisations’ (for that we can read private companies in it for profit).

The local NHS say that some people have been put into the existing homes as needing nursing care when they don’t actually, they are just not able to go home, and point to a lack of options. But these plans seem to be replacing one single option (care homes with nursing) with another (extra care).

So, over the week the picture is building up. Ten care homes will be closed. They will be replaced by private residential ‘extra care’ homes that have double the capacity, but if West Sussex is anything to go by, a fair number of the places will be reserved for private paying customers rather than people paid for by the County Council.

The Tories and Brinklow Fire Station

According to the Rugby Observer, the proposals for reconfiguring Warwickshire’s Fire Service come in three options, all of which include the closure of the station at Brinklow, which is manned by retained firefighters and is often called upon to support Rugby. Warwick’s station is also in all three options.

In terms of total impact, the closure plans are not as bad as it was first feared, with a maximum of four stations being closed as opposed to a possible seven. Still, it would affect up to 100 retained firefighters, and has raised concerns amongst the public and neighbouring fire services about the level of cover.

And of course it seems highly suspect that the Tory council decided to put off a decision until after the General Election, in which the Tories won all the seats in the County. Would that have been the case if these closures had not been seen to be shelved soon after Christmas?

St Cross to lose A&E?

According to the Cov Telegraph, the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire Trust (UHCW) has decided to press forward on proposals to remove the A&E unit from Rugby’s St Cross Hospital.

When this was previewed last week, our new MP was quoted as stating his opposition to any cuts in service.

So where is Mark Pawsey today – lobbying the Health Minister? Speaking to UHCW to convey the feelings of his constituents? Nope, he’s opening a fete in Pailton. Glad to see our new representative putting his full attention into fighting to retain healthcare services.

Tracking the cuts

Now that the coalition government has set its course – Cuts, Cuts, Cuts – I think we need to be wary of what the effects of them are. It’s easy for the government and propagandists to make out that the public sector are simply ‘mooching’ from the private sector. The reality is more complex than that:

While the public sector is paid for out of taxation (including duties, fees for services etc), and that mainly will come from the rest of the economy, it is also true that the public sector buys goods and services from the private sector. Also, everyone employed by either sector will be acting in both sectors. Public sector employees buy things from shops. Private sector employees get healthcare which means they don’t have to take as much time off work as they might otherwise. Trying to pretend the two are competitors and there’s no interaction beyond tax and spend is at best naive and at worst outright dishonest.

So, now that England are out of the World Cup, and now that it’s taken a few weeks for the new government to settle in and set out it’s stall, I’m trying to find out what the actual effects of cuts are, and particularly where it concerns Rugby and the local area.

Here’s a start:

Warwickshire County Council are looking into reducing the subsidies that are supporting the provision of day care and respite care for adults. If the changes go ahead, then the costs of care for some of the most vulnerable adults in the county could well soar.

In the next three weeks (on July 20th), Warwickshire County Council will make a decision on whether to close rural fire stations. The original proposals brought out a lot of opposition and the Council put off their deliberations until after the elections (can’t think why they might do that). It’s claimed not to be about cutting costs, but a lot of people locally are not convinced.

The future of the A&E unit at St. Cross Hospital is being reviewed, with a further limit to the types of cases that can be treated there being suggested. Again, it’s not supposed to be about cutting costs, but about improving services.