March 31, 2023 2.00 pm This story is over 15 months old

Care workers scared for jobs stage Sleaford protest over service cuts

They worry about their livelihoods and patients

By Local Democracy Reporter

Care workers have staged a protest in Sleaford over cuts being made to home care services in Lincolnshire.

Last week, providers were informed that Lincolnshire’s Integrated Care Board (LICB) would be cutting the number of companies providing home care from around 80 to just four.

The move has sparked action from carers from all over county as staff from all over the county joined a demonstration outside the LICB offices on Lions Way this morning (Friday).

Workers say they are not only scared of what it will mean for their jobs, but also the patients they look after.

They called for the process to be reviewed as they chanted “Stop the contract” and “Choice in care”.

Leading the demonstration was Jacob Ford, Manager at Lincolnshire Hope Care.

“We’re here today outside the LICB office in Sleaford to stop the contract going through that is threatening clients’ rights,” he said.

“In the last week, the LICB has said we have been consulted in this process and that it is a fair, legal and transparent procurement process, despite irrefutable evidence given to them that is not the case.

“They are still threatening to push through this contract, take away our jobs, our livelihoods and our clients.”

He continued: “Small independent, family-run businesses are going out of business just because the NHS is trying to push through this underhanded contract.

“We stand together, united against this NHS contract and against the LICB.”

Care workers stage a protest outside LICB offices in Sleaford | Photo: James Turner

Some protestors also claim that the LICB have contacting their clients directly. However, they refute these claims.

Paddie Brocklesby, Manager of Honey Home Care said: “The general consensus from these people is if they don’t swap to the care provider they wish them to, then they won’t have any care. They are not being given a choice.

“I have a lady who is saying she would rather go without care than go to a big business where she knows she’ll just be a number. I’ve also got a gentleman who is now having a lot of seizures because of the stress it’s causing him.”

A spokesperson for the organisation said: “NHS LICB published a procurement opportunity for Continuing Healthcare (CHC) funded domiciliary care services (home care) in November 2022. The aim of the procurement was to improve responsiveness for requests for home care, to have consistent standard of quality and to build a foundation to create improvements in the domiciliary care workforce.

“Prior to the procurement the ICB had largely spot purchased care from a large number (70+) of providers and the procurement envisaged reducing this number by selecting a provider for each of seven geographic zones in Lincolnshire. Following evaluation of received tenders contracts have now been awarded.

“As with all of our procurements, the procurement opportunity was advertised on the Find a Tender service. Marker engagement events were held last summer to share with the market our initial views and to receive feedback and comments, and we shared details of these events with current providers via email. We also held feedback events in the autumn and again sent emails to providers.

“The ICB sent a letter to providers on March 24, 2023 indicating that, although the new contract are set to be in place from April 1, the change to the new providers would be managed in a phased way and asked that providers work with us and the new providers to ensure that the transition for patients is as smooth as possible.

“There is no exception that existing providers will have to hand over their clients and the carers who look after them by April 1, although we do expect that there will eventually be a time that almost all homeware services are placed with the new providers.

“The ICB is assured that the providers awarded contracts have met its requirements and we will continue to monitor this contract on an ongoing basis.”

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