Liberal Democrats have today called for improved communication between all existing care providers and Gloucestershire County Council to lessen the impact of sudden liquidation announcements on service users and staff.
The Council’s Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee was given the opportunity to quiz Senior Officers at Shire Hall over the unexpected statement that the business Cleeve Link was being wound up last Thursday night impacting 478 people and risking hundreds of jobs.
At the Committee, a Senior Officer did admit that the care provider had been looking “wobbly” prior to being told that the company had gone into liquidation on 2nd March. It is understood that many staff had not been paid for nearly two months.
In commenting, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Long-Term Care, Cllr. David Brown (LD: Barnwood and Hucclecote) said:
“We commend the staff at Cleeve Link who came to work as normal despite many of them not being paid, but yet working tirelessly to continue caring for their clients.
“We've heard today that Cleeve Link has for a number of years experienced difficulties especially during periods where they have taken on a lot of staff. We acknowledge that the council doesn't have responsibility for the financial management of a company, but we do have responsibility for those people who need our care. It would have therefore been good if better communication had existed between the provider and this council as ultimately financial problems could significantly affect the delivery of care.
“In moving forward I would like to see a higher level of communication between all existing care providers and the council to reduce the impact of a sudden liquidation announcement from a care provider in the future.
“It would be naïve for us to think that this won’t happen again.”
Lib Dem Spokesperson for Older-People, Cllr. Suzanne Williams (LD: Hester’s Way and Springbank) also said:
“It is concerning that the county council did not seem to hear about the financial issues surrounding Cleeve Link’s announcement, much sooner than last Thursday. It could have helped reduce the uncertainty felt by both service users and staff alike.
"I was also saddened to hear that carers employed by the care provider hadn't been paid for nearly two months. Cleeve Link clearly abused the loyalty of its carers who continued to provide much needed care to those who they had probably seen regularly over a long period of time.
“I hope history does not repeat itself. We wouldn’t want to see other providers succumb to the same fate as Cleeve Link.”