“SICKENING, outrageous and ironic.”

Those are the words of devastated healthcare workers who face redundancy despite providing vital acute care to patients in their homes to ease the county’s hospital bed crisis.

In a letter to staff, council bosses blame axing community rehabilitation assistants from Bournemouth Intermediate Care Service due to £426,000 funding cuts from NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Remarkably, it comes just one day after the Daily Echo revealed Bournemouth council’s chief executive is set to receive a staggering £390,000 pay-off for leaving his job - and a month after the end of a public consultation into a controversial shake-up of health services in the county focused on a model to ‘bring care closer to home.’

Run by Dorset HealthCare, the team which provide specialist care to thousands of seriously ill patients at home every year, would be cut from 21 to just eight if proposals go ahead.

Bemused workers said the move would put even more pressure on hospitals, the ambulance service and GPs who refer patients to the team, therefore costing more for the cash-strapped NHS.

Team leader Joy Ainley told the Daily Echo: “The timing of it all does stick in everyone’s throat.

“Frankly, it is sickening, outrageous, ironic, we just can’t understand it because care closer to home is the Government’s focus. It has come completely out of the blue and has left us totally devastated. It is like a bombshell has hit us.

“Put simply, these workers are totally integral to our team and we cannot function without them.”

The community rehabilitation assistants make up a specialised acute care team including senior nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists who help rehabilitate patients who would otherwise be in hospital.

Their specialist role includes visiting a patient in often short notice up to four times a day 365 days a week to do everything from administering medication, taking bloods, wound care, and carrying out clinical observations to rehabilitation, monitoring signs of deterioration and end of life care.

Linda Macmillan, a specialist nurse in the team who is a former A&E nurse, said: “We are all devastated because we are aware of the domino effect the dire consequences of cutting this service will have on Bournemouth patients who will be left vulnerable because we will no longer be able to respond and monitor them, creating yet more pressure on A&E and the ambulance service

“The proposals to ‘bring care closer to home’ simply will not be possible. It will rip our team apart and jeopardise patient care.

“People do not stop getting sick or extremely unwell just because you stop funding.

“We have to ensure people are safe and well looked after.”

Another worker at risk of redundancy, who did not want to be named, added: “Although I am worried about my own families future I am concerned about what this means for the service I work for. With the current state of the NHS especially in the Bournemouth and Poole area, how does this help financially? We see patients who would otherwise be in expensive hospital beds or at home alone and unsafe. How is this justifiable?”

A spokesman from NHS Dorset CCG, said: “NHS Dorset CCG makes discretionary funding available to the local authorities through the Better Care Fund. For the period 2017/18 we have had to make the difficult decision to reduce this by £426,000.

"We are hoping that the new monies for Social Care announced in the budget - £3.798m for 2017/18 for Bournemouth Borough Council - would offset the reduction in local funding. Discussions on this are ongoing and further national guidance on the use of this funding is expected imminently.”


COUNCIL chiefs 'regret' the decision to potentially axe nearly two thirds of Bournemouth's community rehabilitation assistants - but it is down to money.

A spokesman for Bournemouth Borough Council said the service aims to either enable people 'to avoid an admission to hospital' or 'to leave hospital sooner than would otherwise have been the case' if they are already an inpatient.

David Vitty, Service Director for Adult Social Care in Bournemouth, said: “We very much regret having to consider our continuing investment in this team, but the difficult financial position that the Council is facing means that the funding we’ve had in the past to support this service is no longer available. We understand that this will raise anxiety and concern for our staff and the patients they care for, and will be doing all we can to support them at this time. Meanwhile, we, together with partners, will be exploring all possible actions that could mitigate against compulsory job losses.”

He added: "In order to protect core statutory services for the most vulnerable residents in Bournemouth, the Council has reluctantly decided that it can no longer continue to fund 13 roles within the Bournemouth Intermediate Care Service.”

A spokesman for Dorset HealthCare added: “Bournemouth Borough Council are in the early stages of consultation regarding their proposed changes. We are being consulted as partners in the service and will work with the council to ensure the best possible outcome in the circumstances for people who use the service.”