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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Sturgeon urged to intervene as care provider announces closure of 12 nursing homes

Written by The Press Association

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to intervene after a care provider announce plans to close nursing homes across Scotland.

The trade union Unison said the decision by Bield Housing would see more than 160 residents, including some aged 90 and above, forced to leave their homes.

The union demanded action after the not-for-profit organisation announced it would withdraw from the care home sector over the next 12 to 18 months.

In a statement Bield said "financial constraints" meant it had to look differently at how the firm operates.

It added: "Reliance on the public sector to fund our business continues to be eroded and wider changes in the economic, political and global marketplace have influenced our need for change."

The company said it had "made the very difficult decision to withdraw from the residential care home market" and was reportedly closing 12 homes across Scotland.

" This is a fundamental step and one which we do not take lightly, but it is in the best interests of the long-term future and sustainability of our organisation," Bield stated.

"The decision to make these changes to services, and in particular the withdrawal of care home services, is very much a last resort option.

"We have carefully considered a wide range of options to continue delivery of these services however, we have been unable to find a solution that will be viable in the longer term."

The company said it was aware of the "serious impact" the move would have on residents, their families and those working in the homes.

"Those impacted by the changes have been advised and in the coming weeks and months we will be holding consultation meetings to communicate the reasons for the decision and discuss what options are available to those affected - with the aim of minimising the impact as far as possible," it pledged.

But John Gallacher, Unison's Scottish organiser, demanded the First Minister "intervene and ask how Bield Housing's management team got themselves into this position".

The union leader said: "This is a disaster for families across Scotland and it questions the role of government, integrated joint boards, NHS and local authorities.

"The task of making alternative arrangements will fall back on public authorities, the tax payer and individual families at a few months notice.

"This is at a time when demand for care services can only increase. As a charity, using public funds, Bield Housing must be held accountable."

He stressed the need to "protect the elderly residents and staff affected by this decision", and called for action from the Scottish Government, the local government body Cosla and others to "save vital services and jobs".

Mr Gallacher continued: "In the long term we need to accept that such crucial services cannot be left to the market.

"We need to question whether the sector can deliver in the face of increasing demand and how local authorities, who have lost over 30,000 jobs and taken the brunt of austerity cuts, can possibly cope over the long term.

"Putting so many families at risk, goes to the heart of what kind of society Scotland is."

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