Campaign on to save care home

A CAMPAIGN to try to save a ‘flagship’ elderly care centre at Wombwell kicks off in force this weekend.

Staff from Highfield Grange will join trade unionists in Barnsley town centre, in a bid to get over 1000 signatures against closure of the intermediate care home.

Over 70 workers could lose their jobs if Highfield Grange closes its doors in March next year, with more than 30 council employees particularly under threat.

The centre is run and funded jointly by the NHS and Barnsley Council, but the NHS is set to pull its 50 per cent, or £544,000 of the budget, and the council says it can not fill the resulting shortfall.

The Barnsley branch of the GMB union says members want answers to the reasons for the closure of the facility, that provides local care and jobs in a run-down area within the borough.

Spokesman Henry Rajch said: “This is stage one of a campaign by ourselves and Unison. We say that the council is prepared to respect its commitment to Highfield Grange - why can’t the NHS do the same? We want answers”.

He continued: “This is a well-liked place that provides a very valuable service.

“Many of the staff whose jobs are under threat now have faced this situation before - in some cases more than once. There are workers who have moved four or five times due to council home closures. There are people there who moved from Greenside House, and it’s been one long worry for them. Now they are concerned that they may have made their last move. It’s a great shame as these are dedicated staff who are well-liked by users. The place has a lovely atmosphere and is much preferred by people who have been there to the hospital”.

Further campaigning activities are planned, that are set to culminate in a big rally, with speakers, at Barnsley.

Further to its intermediary care, helping elderly patients who need nursing following surgery, Highfield Grange hosts a five-day-a-week day care facility for Age Concern, which is a social lifeline for many locals. A three-month consultation period over its future is now underway.