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Cost-cutting ‘will harm’ home care for Haringey’s disabled

PUBLISHED: 15:26 14 October 2010

HOME care services for the disabled will suffer after healthcare bosses switched to a cheaper private firm, it is feared.

NHS Haringey, the frontline healthcare provider, has been accused of resorting to “underhand” budget cutting that will help the balance sheet but may harm patients’ care.

Professor Henry Arnstein, 86, says he is worried for the care his wife Ruth will get under the new, cheaper system – where wages are nearly a third lower.

Ruth, 88, suffers from dementia and needs help with every task, from washing to eating and dressing herself.

To make life possible the couple, of Hurst Avenue, Crouch End, have home carers 15 hours per day, every day.

But NHS Haringey last week ditched the carers provided by Haringey Council for cheaper provider Sure Care.

Professor Arnstein said: “At the moment she is well looked after and she has regular carers.

“From what I have seen there are big differences in the quality of the carers. Once it has started there is nothing much I can do.

“I am sure there are people in even greater difficulty than I am, such as those who don’t have anybody other than carers.”

He said the Sure Care staff he met, who took over his wife’s care this week, “spent the least time possible” shadowing their predecessors.

Since the Journal intervened Professor Arnstein says the Sure Care staff have improved, but the handover period ends this week and after that Sure Care workers are on their own.

Haringey Council said the move was “for economic reasons”, but a spokesman for NHS Haringey claimed that rather than a cost-cutting exercise, the swap was “to ensure these important services meet patients’ needs”.

He said Sure Care had “a proven track record”, but this did little to ease Professor Arnstein’s concern.

Haringey Council’s carers were paid £15.50 per hour, whereas Sure Care staff will receive £10.75 per hour for 13 patients in all. “Now we are landed with these people; that’s what I dread,” said Professor Arnstein.

“If the NHS has to save money without appearing to cut services, that is the easy way to do it.

“They can still claim they are doing what they have to do by statute, but it is an underhand way of doing it. And we are stuck in the middle.”

He added: “Anybody can wash somebody or feed them, but it is the way they behave and talk to her and so on. I didn’t realise before this how complicated it all was, how difficult. It is a tremendous blow to me and to the carers.”

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