Anti-care home privatisation campaigners have called for the controversial plans to be ditched after the council suffered a major setback, reports MIKE DELANEY.
Fife Council admitted that it had failed to find a “suitable provider” to take over the service and rebuild ten homes – including two in Glenrothes – but did not reveal what its next move would be.
The town-based local authority wrote to relatives of people who live in the homes, explaining that the two would-be providers who had expressed an interest had both been rejected and it would now be ‘business as usual’ at facilities, such as South Parks House and Allan McLure House.
Glenrothes resident, Ian Sloan, whose mother lives in the latter home and who has been a prominent figure in the campaign to keep them under council control, believes there is now a huge question mark over whether the authority can now press head with its proposal. He said: “I hope that this means that the council will now do what the community has always wanted - to continue to provide a council -run service.
“We would be outraged if the council now try to move our relatives out of their choice of care home.
“The council should now iimplement the policy agreed in 2008 to have a gradual replacement of their own care homes, and give up on the failed attempt to privatise this essential service.”
In the letter, the council’s older people’s services chief, Rona Laing, said: “As part of the procurement process we advertised for the replacement of services on 29 July with a closing date for returned submissions on 19 September.
“I can now advise you that the evaluation panel met to consider the two submissions received and the conclusion was that neither submission met our expected requirements to replace the care homes.
“The focus now for the service will continue to be the care and welfare of residents, service users and staff.
“The care provided in our ten council residential care homes will continue as usual and the buildings will be maintained to the required standard to ensure that care is provided safely.”
She added that a report would go to the 15 November meeting of the social work and health committee – which took the decision to move to a privatisation, or not-for-profit service in the face of massive opposition in February – to consider the next step.
Chairman Tim Brett admitted he was disappointed at the situation, adding “we had understood from informal discussions that took place that there would be more interest.
“There is certainly no crisis and we will continue with the present arrangements for the foreseeable future.”
Social work chief, Stephen Moore, would be asked to look at alternative proposal, possibly including seeking a ‘social enterprise’ provider.
Labour’s Mike Rumney said that it was “no great surprise” that the situation had arisen and called for the process to be halted.
“We have said all along that privatisation residential care for some of the most vulnerable elderly people in our local communities is wrong and this failure only compounds our fears,” said Cllr Rumney.