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Elderly 'put at risk' in Walsall as pay row sparks care backlog

By Richard Guttridge | Walsall | Health | Published:

Dozens of elderly and vulnerable people are being put at “risk” by a crisis in Walsall’s home care system sparked by a dispute over pay, a leaked memo reveals.

Providers in the borough were told this week care needed arranging for 70 people “as a matter of urgency” as cases were not being picked up “in a timely manner”.

It comes amid unrest in the Walsall care sector caused by a change by the council which has seen carers paid by the minute.

The Express & Star has been told the move has resulted in some providers taking on less work in the borough, which appears to have seen care packages piling up and created a backlog the authority is now desperately trying to manage.

Providers were warned if they did not pick up the care packages the council would need to take emergency measures to ensure vulnerable people received care by law.

Walsall Council alerts providers to available care packages through an electronic portal.

The note, sent to domiciliary care providers by the council and shared with the Express & Star, said: “There appears to be issues regarding providers accessing the portal in a timely manner as we have a number of packages which we cannot broker putting at risk vulnerable service users.

“There are 70 packages outstanding on the system which needs to be revisited and or rejected on the system.

Can this cleansing be done as a matter of urgency as we need to broker these packages outside of this framework should there be no supply in the market place to meet our duties under the Care Act 2014.”

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The director of one care company in Walsall said it has been "flooded by requests" since the new pay policy was enforced in August.

He said: "Since pay per minute we are being flooded by requests, it's absolutely constant. I have heard of other providers being brought in."

Previously, carers who were with a patient on a home visit for at least 23 minutes would be paid for the full half hour.

It has led to concerns carers will choose to work elsewhere in the Black Country where pay is more competitive.

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A Walsall Council spokeswoman said: "The level of packages brokered by the council are in response to assessed needs increasing and decreasing.

"Only providers who can meet those needs as identified in the care and support plan are brokered.

"The quality of care delivered and outcomes achieved are reviewed as part of our statutory review process or in response to any concerns raised."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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