One hundred Somerset learning disability service redundancies predicted

Over one in ten staff supporting people with learning disabilities could be made redundant in a new round of cuts announced by Discovery.

The company, which runs Somerset’s learning disability service, put out a 45 day consultation on an unspecified number of redundancies. UNISON, the union representing staff affected, has warned that the length of consultation means more than 99 roles are likely to go.

News of job losses comes as the council’s health scrutiny committee was set to debate a report into the state of the learning disability service this Wednesday (9 May 2018). Although hopes had been high for a hard-hitting scrutiny report, concerns raised during the process were not featured in the delayed document.

Our briefing on Somerset learning disability service redundancies

Discovery managing director Luke Joy-Smith did not provide councillors with a staff, customer and families satisfaction survey, despite promising in November 2017 to produce one for the Task and Finish group’s report. The chair of the panel that wrote the report quit unexpectedly, which UNISON fears was down to pressure from the council to remove elements critical of Discovery.

Published only days before Discovery started its job cuts consultation, the relevance of the report is now in question.

UNISON lead steward for the Learning Disability Service Ewa Marcinkowska said:

“Learning disability workers need stability to get the service back on its feet. News that more than one hundred of us could face the sack is a kick in the teeth for dedicated staff who’ve stuck around despite Discovery’s cuts. If the plans go through it will be the most vulnerable people in Somerset on the sharp end, facing limited care from overstretched staff.

“Customers and their families will be feeling anxious that the service they rely on is about to go through another upheaval. We were promised a high quality, sustainable service. Instead it’s more broken promises from Somerset County Council and Discovery. Staff continue to leave the service in droves, and this latest news will exacerbate the already perilous safe staffing levels.

“The council report was a missed opportunity to be honest about the state of the Learning Disability Service. Now these job losses mean months more uncertainty. Staff and customers desperately need Somerset County Council to put enough money in to avoid these job losses.”

Further information
  • Around 1000 people are now employed by Discovery, down from 1200 when they took the service over in April 2017
  • UNISON activists in the Learning Disability Service will be at the council scrutiny meeting from 10:00 on Wednesday 9 June
  • Get the full picture with UNISON’s update on Somerset learning disability service redundancies