‘Privatise’ care homes plan set to go-ahead

Woodside Court Care Home

Woodside Court Care Home

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A LAST-ditch bid to halt the ‘privatisation’ of care homes has failed, reports MIKE DELANEY.

The money, which had previously been set aside to pay for the building of new council-run homes, has been diverted to other capital projects, clearing the final hurdle for the facilities to be built and run by private or not-for-profit sector providers.

The £40 million would have paid for five homes, but the cash will now go to the overall capital investment budget.

There are currently two council-run homes in Glenrothes - at Alan McLure House and South Parks House.

Labour councillors had tried to block the move by suggesting that half the total be kept for home building - and so ensuring that there would still be a mix of private and council homes - but they were outvoted 14-6 by the ruling Scottish National Party-Liberal Democrat coalition’s members.

Social work chief, Tim Brett, said the Labour plan would only have bought “three and a bit homes” and the party seemed to have no idea how it would pay for others.

He also dismissed the idea of refurbishing the homes, adding: “We did look in detail at this and the advice we had was that our names could not be refurbished to the standards required without significantly reducing the number of places that would be involved.”

But Labour’s David Ross said: “We’re convinced this would have allowed us to retain good standards of care and ensure good training and consistency of staff which is absolutely vital for the people in our homes.”

The vote came in the aftermath of criticism of the privatisation plan in light of the situation at private provider Southern Cross, which has homes in Glenrothes at Woodside Court, Lomond Court and Balfarg Care.

Last week, in seeming contrast to earlier remarks, First Minister Alex Salmond backed the council’s policy, while health minister Nicola Sturgeon said the government would take “any steps possible” to ensure residents didn’t have to move from the company’s homes.

But fears about the future of the homes appear to have abated after the company reached a deal with the landlords who own its 750-plus facilities throughout the United Kingdom, which may see an as yet unspecified number taken over by the latter.