Friday, August 19, 2011

Crossroads Care crisis spreads form Skye and Lochalsh to the rest of the Highlands?

There has been much upset in Skye and Lochalsh recently over the decision to award the respite care contract currently undertaken by Crossroads to an Edinburgh based charity, Carr Gorm. The letters pages of the West Highland Free Press have been hot with outrage and this week the editorial states:

“The Crossroads Crisis – where were our councillors?”

“...This decision begs several important questions. Firstly where were our councillors when was it taken? Did they know of it? If not, why not? If so, did they approve or oppose it? If they approved it, why?

If they opposed it and were overruled by a mainland majority, why did the councillors of Skye and Lochalsh not then mobilise the immense local support which was always available, but is now left to vent its great anger after the contracts have been signed and sealed?” There’s plenty more like that in the pages of the WHFP this week.

An online petition has been started and the outrage is reflected on the Crossroads Care - Skye and Lochalsh facebook page. It now emerges that Skye and Lochalsh is not the only contract that Crossroads have lost. This from the Highland Council site:

“The Highland Council, working in partnership with NHS Highland, can announce that Carr Gomm Scotland has been contracted to provide home based respite services across most of the Highland Council area, with effect from October 2011.” Full release here.

What will this mean for Nairn then? Well a big part of the outrage in Skye stems round the fact that it seems that Skye and Lochalsh’s care hours will be reduced from 7,777 hours a year to 2,882. Nairn will lose out but by how much? Again the Highland Council press release states:

“The contract has been awarded on the basis of population size across the Council. This means some changes to historical budgets, which did not provide equity. As a consequence, Caithness, Inverness, Ross-shire and Sutherland will have increased budgets; while budgets reduce in Badenoch & Strathspey, Lochaber, Nairn and Skye & Lochalsh. The changes will be phased to ensure that need continues to be met.”

Perhaps it will emerge shortly how many care hours Nairn will lose? So the impact? Who better to ask than former Provost and Nairn Crossroads Care fundraiser Liz. She told the Gurn:

“It'd be fair to say that I'm very concerned about the situation locally as a member of the fundraising committee of Nairn Crossroads Scheme. Crossroads do a terrific job in Nairn and across the Highlands and there is much added value to the service through additional volunteer fundraising which extends the remit of there service.

It is inconceivable that an Edinburgh based charity can do a better job and if there is any opportunity to overturn the decision I will try my best to. The problem is it's all tied up in legal procurement process and as we all know once the council puts a job out to tender if there's a lower bid it's hard to justify retention of current service.

I wasn't included in discussions about the remit for tender document (Administration members only) I believe there must be a way we can have a look at it to see if the ethos fits our Highland area”

Will the outrage present in Skye and Lochalsh spread to the rest of the Highlands? This observer feels it has the potential to do so and could well be something that lingers to influence voters at the ballot box when it comes to next May’s Highland Council elections.


Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that people do remember this decision and vote accordingly at the next election

Anonymous said...

As an employee of Carr-Gomm Scotland, all I can say is that I believe your fears to be unfounded; Carr-Gomm is a forward-thinking organisation which puts the individual at the centre of their own support. It is not one of the large profit-making companies based in England that are currently making their presence felt in this sector and of which all of us working in the care sector should be very afraid.
You are in good hands.