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Outpatient support staff criticise Kent County Council for cutting 'Home to Decide' service

More than 80 people who were applauded for being key workers during the coronavirus pandemic could now lose their jobs after a council decision to cut a service which decides the care needs of patients when discharged from hospital.

Hilton Nursing Partners staff believe Kent County Council's culling of the 'Home to Decide' service is putting 83 jobs at risk.

Hilton Nursing Partners - based in Ashford's Henwood Estate - support outpatients after their discharge from hospital (38009953)
Hilton Nursing Partners - based in Ashford's Henwood Estate - support outpatients after their discharge from hospital (38009953)

The service is a two-week pathway from hospital discharge, with continued assessments to see if patients are able to stay in their own homes longer term or if they need to go into a care home.

In a letter addressed to KCC leader Cllr Roger Gough (Con), staff from the Ashford-based firm have highlighted the benefits resulting from the service.

The association's employees at risk of losing their jobs write: "We have been put at risk of losing our jobs as a direct result of Kent County Council’s decision to decommission a service (Home to Decide) that supports vulnerable adults to remain within their own homes.

"The service has a 70% success rate of people not requiring a care home at the end of the service.

"Not only does this save on taxpayers’ money but more importantly keeps people in the setting that they want to live.

The plea was sent to KCC leader Roger Gough to request a review into the decision
The plea was sent to KCC leader Roger Gough to request a review into the decision

"We cannot understand the decision to decommission the service at a time when care homes have been and remain a high-risk environment due to coronavirus. How does this make sense?"

The plea also notes that some of the key workers may leave the health and social care sector entirely as a result of the cut.

It continues: "There have been so many Covid recruitment campaigns and ongoing news articles on how short-staffed this sector is, so we are struggling to understand the rationale behind the decision.

"Kent County Council may feel they are saving money, and this may be deemed as a short-term solution, but creates a longer issue and actually takes the patients’ best interest out of the equation.

Care homes have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stock image
Care homes have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stock image

"As a collective we are devastated that as key workers and named “heroes” only a matter of weeks ago, we have been totally disregarded.

"We do request that you review the decision for the Home to Decide service, based on longer term solutions and not purely as a money saving exercise."

A KCC spokesperson said: “The health and well-being of all our residents and the sustainability of our services are priorities for KCC and as such the council regularly reviews its contracts and resources to ensure they continue to be viable.

“Following such a review, a decision was taken to cease the Home to Decide service contract as the council has similar successful pathways in place which will provide comparable care making this a more sustainable option moving forward.

"KCC has offered to work with Hilton Nursing Partners to help find alternative employment..."

“We understand the concern that this decision may result in some job losses however, the council must ensure that, using evidence-based decision making, public funds and resources are allocated appropriately.

"KCC has offered to work with Hilton Nursing Partners to help find alternative employment across the care sector as there are currently a number vacancies available.”

The letter comes at a time when Covid-19 infections and deaths have severely hit UK care homes.

This plea comes a day after Boris Johnson offered a much-condemned reason for the care home outbreaks - that "too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures".

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