Councils cancelling home care packages ‘unacceptable’

Health secretary Jeane Freeman spoke at Holyrood on Tuesday.

Councils cancelling home care packages ‘unacceptable’ Getty Images

Health secretary Jeane Freeman has said cutting home care packages for vulnerable people is “unacceptable”.

Speaking in Holyrood, Freeman addressed an investigation by the BBC’s Disclosure programme, which found that thousands of vulnerable people across Scotland have lost home care packages due to coronavirus.

The investigation found Glasgow and Inverclyde to be the worst affected areas, with drops of 34% and 27% in the total number of care packages respectively.

However, some partnerships have seen the number of packages on offer increase, with Angus offering 80 more packages and South Ayrshire an extra 30.

The health secretary said that the Scottish Government had previously assured local partnerships, along with local authority body Cosla, that they would help to cover any financial shortcomings.

Following a question from Green MSP Ross Greer, Freeman said: “This is unacceptable to cut these social care packages.

“In particular because we have made it clear jointly with Cosla in a letter between me and councillor Stuart Currie, that we would meet the additional cost that arose as a result of the demand of Covid-19 on social care packages in order to allow existing packages to be provided as well as meeting demand.”

The health secretary added that returning social care staff are “ready to be deployed” to relieve any workforce problems as a result of the virus.

She continued: “We are in direct contact with those local authorities where these packages have been cut, we are asking them to tell us what they need in terms of resources or staffing to be deployed.

“I regret to say that not all of them have done that, but we will continue to press very hard that they reinstate those social care packages bearing in mind their statutory obligations in this regard and our offers of significant support and help.”

Freeman also said that she “completely appreciates” the effect that losing their care packages, as well as social isolation, can have on people with disabilities, adding that if there is more disability groups think should be done, she “would be happy to hear from them”.

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