Staff and service users from Somerset’s Learning Disability Service will today deliver a petition to the County Council, calling for council bosses to honour their promises and act to save the crumbling care service now in the hands of “Discovery”.
Signed by over 5000 people, the petition will force a debate at the full council meeting where staff stewards in UNISON will draw attention to the reality of Discovery’s management of the Learning Disability Service.
Large numbers of learning disability staff are already leaving their jobs, fuelling fears that the “quality service” with “continuity of care” will be lost, despite promises made by Conservative councillors before the service was contracted to Discovery.
UNISON organiser Tom Kennedy-Hughes said:
“It is time for council leaders to take their fingers out of their ears and listen to learning disability staff and service users who are telling them that standards of care are already dropping. If they don’t act now vulnerable people will lose out.
“We estimate over 100 staff have left in the three months since April. That is getting on for a 40% turnover rate – more than double the figure before Discovery took over.
“Staff are concerned about cuts to pay and conditions, but above all these dedicated workers are worn down by Discovery ramming through changes that make it harder to support the people who need the Learning Disability Service.
“There are two clear paths for disabled people in Somerset. On the one hand, the council could stump up extra funds and make sure Discovery works with UNISON to protect the service. The alternative is experienced, qualified staff continue to leave and the service goes the way of South West One.”
- Sign the care not cost petition online
- A fuller briefing on the situation in the LDS is available on request
- UNISON is holding a rally outside the council meeting at Shire Hall to present the petition at 0930 on Wednesday.
- “Discovery” is the name of the social enterprise for Somerset that has been set up by Dimensions UK, the parent company that the Learing Disability Service has been outsourced to