Social workers in Northamptonshire fear the local authority’s plan to transfer its adult services to a new company will disrupt under-pressure teams, union leaders have warned.
Northamptonshire council plans to create a new limited company, including a trading arm, which it will then commission to deliver social care on its behalf from April 2017. The council’s directors of adults and children’s services will be seconded to manage the firm.
The council said the new model would make the best use of resources available and offer opportunities to generate additional income. But a spokesperson for the local Unison branch told Community Care social workers had expressed concerns over the move and how it would impact care.
“This is a very hard-time to bring about such wide-ranging changes. The council is already relying on a high level of agency staff in adults’ as well as children’s services and there is a problem with recruitment and retention,” she said.
“We know that the council’s responsibility to ensure there are enough Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) to provide 24-hour cover has been breached on more than one occasion because of this. It is a very uncomfortable and unusual time to be working for the council and staff are not in a good position to take on these changes.
“The flow of information is very slow and social workers are not sure what’s happening. They are finding it difficult to have confidence that the new model will be better.”
Bill Parker, Northamptonshire’s cabinet member for adult social care, defended the plans.
“The creation of Northamptonshire Adult Social Services means we can support those vulnerable adults who cannot help themselves in the most innovative, effective and efficient way possible,” he said.
“The new organisation will be wholly owned by the council and we will retain the statutory responsibility for adult services in Northamptonshire, but it allows us to make the very best use of the resources available and explore new ways to generate income.”
A Northamptonshire council spokesperson added the structure and staffing model was still being developed and any changes will involve a full consultation with staff and trade unions.