OAP care centres to close

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Council and NHS chiefs are pressing ahead with plans - opposed by 6,300 people - to close two care centres for the elderly in Sheffield.

Sevenfields resource centre in Wisewood, and Hazelhurst resource centre in Jordanthorpe, are both set to shut.

Decision-makers say the two centres - which provide long term care as well as ‘half-way house’ rehabilitation of elderly people after they leave hospital - are ‘not fit for purpose’.

Instead beds will be bought-in from private sector providers - putting 43 people out of work.

A huge groundswell of opposition has forced councillors to talk over the matter at next Wednesday’s full council meeting, as any petition attracting more than 5,000 signatures forces an automatic debate.

But discussions are unlikely to change the plans - a report to be considered by the council cabinet the following Wednesday, April 11, recommends the closures go ahead.

Jacqui Milner, aged 68, secretary of Sheffield Pensioners’ Action Group, said: “It’s just terrible. They say they have held a consultation but how can they have listened if they are going against more than 6,000 people who have signed this petition?

“I know they have got to make hard decisions, but I do not understand why it seems to be the elderly and vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of cuts every time.

“I’m not saying there aren’t good private homes out there, but private organisations are in it for one thing - profit.”

Sevenfields and Hazelhurst hold 42 beds between them, 31 for intermediate care and 11 for residential, at an annual cost of £2m evenly split between the council and the NHS.

The facilities are among the last five of nearly 40 elderly care centres closed down in just 15 years.

In 1996 Sheffield Council ran 38 old people’s homes and, by 2003, had only 16 - most of them handed over to private organisations.

The last to close was Ravenscroft in Stradbroke, which shut its doors 14 months ago.

After Sevenfields and Hazelhurst close there will be only three council-run centres left in the city - and those three, specialising in dementia care, are also threatened with the axe.

Council bosses insist the decision to close the centres follows ‘extensive consultation’.

But the move has been opposed by patients’ groups and trade unions.

Patient group Sheffield LINk, in its official response to the consultation, said: “Sheffield LINk cannot see with any clarity what would replace the services lost, if Hazelhurst and Sevenfields were to close.

“It appears to us there is no obvious, agreed and up-to-date intermediate care or dementia strategy for the city at the present time.”

Unison organiser Charlie Carruth said: “The council is out of touch with how people truly feel about these services.

“With NHS budgets coming under incredible pressure over the next few years, it is simply the wrong time for Sheffield to take away its publicly-provided respite care.

“This decision will come back to haunt them.”

Richard Webb, executive director for communities at the council, said: “Although the quality of care at Hazelhurst and Sevenfields is good, neither centre provides nursed care and nor are the buildings ideal settings for intensive rehabilitation.

“We are making this proposal after extensive consultation with individuals and organisations that will be affected by these changes, including organisations for older people and members of the public.”

And Tim Furness, NHS Sheffield’s associate director of business planning and partnerships, added: “We want to ensure people leaving hospital who need further care receive it in the best possible setting.

“We recognise Hazlehurst and Sevenfields are no longer fit for purpose and, if the proposals are approved, will commission replacement intermediate care within suitable nursed facilities.”