Fears for Elderly as Care Workers Face Axe

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Byline: DAVE BLACK

FEARS have been voiced over the future of services for the elderly and disabled in Northumberland amid plans by the county council to almost halve the number of home carers it employs.

Letters have been sent out to about 350 county council-employed home carers telling them they are deemed to be at risk of redundancy with immediate effect.

The move is the latest in a series of changes to services for disabled and elderly folk provided by the council, including increased charges for both home and day care and moves which could result in the closure of seven day centres in Amble, Bedlington, Blyth, Prudhoe, Haltwhistle, Hexham and Ponteland.

The unitary authority is believed to be seeking up to 160 redundancies in its inhouse home care workforce and is carrying out a major trawl for volunteers.

Yesterday executive member for adult care, Coun Simon Reed, said he believed there will only be a small number of compulsory redundancies, with the vast majority achieved through voluntary means.

Mark Wilson, the GMB union's organiser at the county council, said the issue would be raised at a meeting between unions and management tomorrow.

He said: "I don't believe they will have any problem in getting enough volunteers to achieve the redundancies they are looking for.

"It has been one cut after another in Northumberland care services in recent years and the staff are very demoralised.

"The home care service has been privatised through the back door, by the council giving new clients to other agencies. …