UNISON Neath Port Talbot branch has written to local councillors protesting that proposals to use the private sector to deliver the overwhelming majority of care services will inevitably mean quality plummets. The union accuses the council of betraying the community it serves, vulnerable constituents and their families, all of whom will be extremely anxious at the news.
UNISON says the private sector has neither the expertise, capacity nor the essential public service ethos to fulfil what are often very complex care programmes meeting the care needs of local people.
Mark Fisher UNISON Branch Chair said,
“We know the pressures Welsh local authorities are under because of the cruel UK Tory government austerity and we have worked with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council to identify savings and the best method for maintaining sustainable care services in the region for the future. By pushing massive privatisation, the council has torn up all of that good work and bi-partisan approach. Private companies are established to make a profit at the detriment of our vulnerable residents.
“By privatising most of the care service provision, remaining council services will be so eroded they will not be able to function effectively and that means eventually all public provision could wither and die. There is a real question to be answered here. If councils don’t provide the most critical local services directly to their constituents, then what exactly are they for? Privatising services means any sense of democratic control – that local people have a say in what happens in their community, is gone forever.
“Public services must be delivered by the council’s directly employed staff to maintain the high quality services which the people of Neath Port Talbot require. We want the council to drop this proposal and return to negotiations so that we can continue to work together to improve service provision, reduce costs and ensure in-house provision remains a viable option in future.”
Privatisation of care services has a troubled history in Wales. As the example of Bryce Care, shows, private care companies have a propensity to go into liquidation. In these circumstances, it is the local authority which must then step in to meet the service needs of clients. In this way, UNISON says, privatisation is a licence for companies to make money whilst the council retains the risk.
UNISON is asking councils in Wales to adopt its Ethical Care Charter which would ensure dignity of care for patients and fair and decent employment standards for care workers.
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