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Photo essay: Barnet’s disastrous privatisation of elderly care

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Careworker Pat Ward

Photo: Careworker Pat Ward

Even more demoralising was the council's admission - in another cabinet resources committee report - that the cuts to careworkers' salaries and terms had not produced the desired cheaper, more efficient, service. It was becoming clear that the suffering had been for nothing.

The high staff turnover had been costly and the private providers couldn't deliver the service within budget. Reports made clear that the attempt to mitigate losses by cutting staff wages through a 'high profile change' (the fight with the careworkers) had failed.

Then, Catalyst Housing lodged a claim for another £17m from the council. It seemed that Catalyst had underestimate the cost of improving and developing new care facilities. The case went to arbitration.

'It’s gone on for so long now. [The careworkers] are so demoralised. Some people have depression and stress,' said careworker Sandra Jones.

'It is hard to keep going and more and more people are leaving... but I think we have to have another go [take further strike action],' said Pat Ward. Ward had been working in Barnet carehomes for more than 20 years when she was forced to sign the Fremantle contract and she was particularly angry. 'It''s being bullied.'

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Kate Belgrave blogs on the experience of public service users facing cuts.

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