RUNNING two Sheffield care centres which are set for closure costs nearly twice as much as outsourcing the service to the private sector, council officers claim.
Residents have reacted furiously after it was revealed the NHS and Sheffield Council plan to close Sevenfields resource centre in Wisewood and Hazelhurst in Jordanthorpe.
More than 6,300 people have signed a petition against the closures, triggering an official council debate on the matter today.
But officers say the move would be the most cost-effective option, because the centres, which care for elderly people, are ‘no longer fit for purpose’ and are too expensive to run.
They recommend the council’s Labour cabinet approve the plans for closure at a meeting next Wednesday.
Eddie Sherwood, the council’s director of care, said in a report to councillors that it currently costs £913 a week to run each of the 42 beds at the centres.
Paying for a bed in the independent sector would cost just £500 a week, including nursing care which is not available at Sevenfields or Hazelhurst.
Mr Sherwood said: “The current beds are not good value for money and, more importantly, are unable to provide 24-hour nursed beds.”
NHS Sheffield, which also funds the two centres, also wants them closed.
The centres provide 31 beds for intermediate care for patients discharged from hospital but too ill to go home. A further 11 beds provide longer-term residential care.
Mr Sherwood added: “The centres were only ever intended to be used for this purpose on a temporary basis.
“These are not modern buildings, lacking in en-suites and purpose-designed facilities for intermediate care.
“Any long-term use of these buildings will require substantial investment for maintenance purposes.”
But staff, carers, trade unions and patient groups have fiercely opposed the closures.
Their petition, to be debated at 2pm today, says: “We believe the policy to close the homes is shortsighted.
“It fails to recognise the valuable contribution made by the service and will remove an essential public resource for the future.”