Care home will close in March

A TREMENDOUS bid by users, staff and unions to save a well-loved care facility at Wombwell has failed.

Redundancy letters are already on their way to staff of Highfield Grange intermediate care home, that will close in March next year, despite a determined campaign to keep it open, the Times was told.

Over 70 current employees are at risk of losing their jobs, after Barnsley Council and NHS Barnsley, who run the home jointly, claimed they were unable to fill a funding gap of over £500,000.

Both bodies claim cheaper private alternatives to Highfield Grange -the last remaining facility of its kind in Barnsley - are available. But workers’ unions have hit back, saying that private homes must make a profit, and so will run on less staff with less pay and benefits - and patients will lose out.

Henry Rajch of the Barnsley branch of the GMB said: “Redundancies are a dreadful prospect given the current economic situation. It’s unbelievable that an intermediate care facility like Highfield Grange will be allowed to close. Anybody who has been there knows the care and facilities available are second to none. It’s a sad day when Barnsley Council gives up its own and last residential care home and awards the work to profit-making private homes”.

Highfield Grange has 39 beds and is run by 34 council workers and 38 NHS staff. An investigation in to its closure by the Personal and Family Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission led to a promise of a ‘transitional sum’ of £250,000 from NHS Barnsley, to help support the changeover.

Commission chair Coun Jennifer Whorton said: “Although we are disappointed that Highfield Grange will close, we are pleased to hear the NHS has identified additional funding to ease the transition over the busy winter period. We are now satisfied there is a robust plan in place to make sure vulnerable people will still have intermediate care services. We will be looking to see how this works in practice”.

Wombwell Coun Dick Wraith said: “This is really sad news as the centre was our flagship for the area when it was built. It seems there is not much more to lose in Wombwell”.