Don't cut care home beds, say campaigners
Campaigners opposing cuts to care home beds in Carlisle have handed over a 1,500-signature petition.
The Carlisle Socialist Party has been collecting signatures in the city centre every Saturday for five weeks.
They today presented the document to Beth Furneaux, Cumbria County Council's portfolio holder for health and care services, during an official handover at the Courts, English Street.
This was preceded by a street protest, with members waving placards and banners in front of the council offices.
It comes after the authority announced that three homes in the city – Elizabeth Welsh House in Harraby, Langrigg House in Morton and Petteril House, Old Harraby – are to close.
It says they are in poor condition and are under-occupied, and instead wants to build a home in the city. However bed numbers will drop from 117 spread across the homes to 60 in the new £6m facility.
The Carlsile Socialist Party believes the reduction in beds would have a huge impact on elderly people in Carlisle needing care.
Members claim it is already difficult to find a care home place either for permanent residents or respite care. They say the plans are simply a cost-cutting measure.
A statement said: "While we welcome the council's recognition of the legal necessity of upgrading current facilities with two new homes, we completely oppose their plan to get rid of half of the current number of beds. Coming at the same time as the 'Success Regime's' threat to close cottage hospital beds in Cumbria, this will have a massive impact on the NHS and increase so-called bed-blocking."
The group has also written to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, calling on him to intervene.
The letter says: "We are writing to you on behalf of Cumbrians to ask you to use your influence on your members on Cumbria county council in the hope that they will scrap their plan to halve the number of care home beds under their direct control.
"The seven local authority owned care homes in Cumbria don’t meet statutory standards and have to be replaced by new ones with better facilities – which we all support, of course. But the council has announced plans to halve the number of beds it will provide from 117 to 60 to save costs. Together with plans from the cynically misnamed
'Success Regime' to close the beds in several cottage hospitals, these short-sighted cuts will inevitably lead to a crisis in social care and in the local NHS too. Respite care will become all but impossible.
"Leaving old or frail people at home and relying on short home visits are a cop-out from social responsibility and one consequence will be increased “bed-blocking” of hospital beds."