Town Councillor for Bridgwater’s Dunwear North ward,Cllr Diogo Rodrigues, was so concerned by allegations of unethical work practices, service users being put at risk, untrained staff in key roles, alleged bullying, overwork and un-investigated complaints in the adult social care system that he brought the issue to Bridgwater Town Council and called for an investigation into the issues.
Care worker Deborah Munton addressed the Bridgwater Town Council meeting saying “I have come to raise your awareness of my concerns about what is happening as a result of the commissioning and out-sourcing of Social Care services by Somerset County Council. “
Challenge to investigate the issues
Deborah continued “I have worked in Health and Social care for 30 years. Since 2009 I have worked at a strategic level. I have been recognised for the innovative development and service user involvement by both the CQC, EROSH and Strategic Health Authority. Recommendations were made to roll out a project out both regionally and nationally.
I was the registered manager with Somerset Care, however I have notified the CQC that I no longer am prepared to be the ‘fit’ person responsible when I am not allowed to address the ongoing issues
- Service users – They are constantly being put at risk. Complaints aren’t investigated. Untrained staff are completing calls. Calls are being cut short.
- Care and Office staff – Are being forced to work excessively, Training is out of date. One carer had to work 0500 – 1700 without a break. Office staff can’t leave until all the work is covered. Office staff don’t get breaks.
- The overall senior management is aware of data protection issues, confidentiality issues, bullying issues and if staff raise a concern then they lose their job
I do have statements to confirm this practice.
I would like to challenge the council, as residents now partially fund Social care through their Council Tax to investigate if our money is being spent wisely and with the interests of our vulnerable within the local community.”
Cllr Rodrigues, who is standing for Labour in the County Council elections for Bridgwater East and Bawdrip said “I have been in regular contact with Deborah since she contacted me directly about the appalling situations that she has described and asked her to attend this meeting to raise awareness. “
“It is very frightening that this is what is going on in our town, it is one thing hearing these stories in the national news but another thing when it hits home and the reality of the struggles in the local Adult Social Care system are made apparent. “
Ensuring elderly not put at risk
Diogo continued “As a Council with the interests of our residents at heart, we must understand what processes are in place by county council to ensure that Bridgwater’s elderly are not being put at risk and that our carers are not over worked and under too much pressure. As part of the commissioning process I would hope they County council have some sort of system whereby they can follow up on these terrible issues and act upon them. “
Council calls for investigation of issues
Cllr Rodrigues concluded “I would also welcome a response from Somerset Care, the largest provider of home care services in Bridgwater whose business is mostly from social services, detailing what it is they plan to do to address the points Deborah has made, the outcomes of this and what they do to ensure that ethical working practices are upheld.”
The Town council supported a motion by Cllr Graham Granter (Lab,Fairfax West) to investigate the allegations and will invite representatives from Somerset Care and the relevant Health Service Unions to a future meeting to discuss the issues raised.