Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bristol ‘home help’ privatisation sparks protest rally on 3 September

Unite press release -

The health needs of more than 1,000 of Bristol’s home-based elderly and vulnerable residents face privatisation, Unite, the largest union in the country, has warned.

And Unite said that the move to hand in-house homecare services to private companies is ‘playing Russian roulette’ with their health, as private companies had already gone into liquidation recently.

Unite also alleges that the privatisation agenda is motivated by the Liberal Democrats, the largest group on the no overall-control Bristol city council, as ‘revenge; for the 2007 defeat of Cllr John Kiely, the then city council executive member for health and social care, who was promoting this policy, despite a 10,000-signature petition against privatisation of homecare services.

Now Unite is organising a march and rally on Saturday, 3 September to Save Bristol’s in-house Homecare Services.

Unite represents the vast majority of the 250 staff helping infirm older people, the disabled, those with mental health problems and the terminally ill to remain living with dignity in their own homes.

Unite said that the residents were already being transferred to private providers, without the option of remaining with Bristol Homecare Services, before the consultation period had been completed, and said that one of these companies had gone into liquidation – 'Care Mart' in the last month.

Unite regional officer Steve Preddy said: ”The council is playing Russian roulette with the welfare of this very vulnerable group by forcing through this privatisation agenda. It should reverse this policy immediately.

”The Bristol area does not have a great reputation for care, as the case of the abuse of mentally ill adults at the Winterbourne View Home, run by a neighbouring local authority, has proved.

”Unite believes that one of the motivations for the Liberal Democrats in pursuing this policy is as revenge for the defeat of Cllr Kiely in the Easton ward in 2007 – he was a champion of this misguided policy.

“The fact that one of these private companies have gone into liquidation recently does not engender confidence, especially as it is Bristol Homecare Services that are picking up the pieces and, ironically, providing the home help that this firm manifestly failed to do.

”Our members, not only fear for their jobs and terms and conditions, but for the welfare of the people they care about on a daily basis, year-in, year-out.

”We urge the people of Bristol, who care about the disadvantaged, to attend our march and rally on Saturday 3 September.”

Notes to news editors:

For further information please contact Steve Preddy on 07764 467 443 and/or Unite communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693 940

Details of the march and rally on Saturday 3 September.

12:30pm - gather at Greenway Centre, Doncaster Road, Southmead, Bristol, BS10 5PY

1:00pm - march through Southmead to Glencoyne Square, Southmead, Bristol, BS10

Unite also aims to hold a demonstration ahead of the next full Bristol city council meeting on Tuesday, 6 September from 17:00 on College Green at the Council House in Bristol.

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