Bristol City Council is set to shut the last remaining rehab centre it runs for older patients who need care after leaving hospital before going home, as it shrinks adult social care budgets.
Cabinet members are today (May 2) expected to approve the closure of East Bristol Intermediate Care Centre to save money, with more than 25 of its all-female staff being made redundant or redeployed.
The service offered by the rehab centre, in Summerhill Terrace, St George, will be taken up by community healthcare provider Sirona at other sites.
The decision comes less than a year after council leaders controversially shut South Bristol Rehab Centre.
Despite initial promises that employees could transfer to Sirona, which runs a similar service at South Bristol Community Hospital, that proposal fell through and the carers were left in limbo for months before having to take either voluntary severance, redundancy or other jobs.
The East Bristol centre’s fate will be sealed by mayor Marvin Rees’s cabinet today. It follows a decision at the budget-setting full council meeting on 21 February to cut the cost of running it altogether as part of savings within adult social care.
A cabinet report said: “Rehabilitation services are not usually provided by local authorities and are a discretionary service for the council, and there is agreement across the health and social care system that the community health provider [Sirona] has the skills and facilities to deliver this service in line with standard practice nationwide.”
Warning staff could find getting new jobs hard
It said affected staff would be consulted on their options and that the council would “comply with the obligation to seek suitable alternative employment for all employees at risk of redundancy to mitigate against any compulsory redundancies”.
But the report added that changing to a new team or role could be difficult. That’s because 58% of the 25.5 full-time equivalent employees are over 50 and have worked at the council for a long time.
The report said that an alternative option for the rehab centre, which could have seen the NHS taking it over, had been discussed but that health partners “are not in a position” to do so.
“They already provide rehabilitation services at other sites across the city, which will ensure that a continued high-quality provision is available for citizens,” the report said. “The [health] system priority is to increase the number of people returning home with care and support in place of offering additional community intermediate care beds.”
It said this meant that “the only viable option for the council to progress is the proposal to stop service delivery at East Bristol Intermediate Care Centre”.
The report said the centre closure would not immediately affect office staff based on the site, but that future use of the accommodation would need further consideration.
“If the proposal to end the rehabilitation service is approved, then part of the site will become vacant,” the report said.
“There will still be office-based staff from the council’s reablement service and Sirona Care & Health in part of the building, however the reduced capacity will mean that the site will need review and full options appraisal with the council’s property service about the preferred future use.”