Sheffield homes closure set to go ahead

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COUNCILLORS have supported plans to close two care homes - despite ‘overwhelming’ opposition from thousands of Sheffield residents.

Sevenfields resource centre in Wisewood and Hazelhurst resource centre in Jordanthorpe are earmarked for closure and a final decision will now be made after proposals were discussed at a scrutiny committee.

Councillors also raised concerns about how long it had taken NHS Sheffield to find a location for a new 120-bed intermediate care resource.

The meeting was told 21 sites had been considered after a strategy outlined in 2008 but none were suitable.

Tim Furness, associate director of business planning and partnerships for NHS Sheffield, said: “We haven’t yet found a suitable site, because they’ve not been big enough or they’ve not been available or we’ve felt they’re not in the right place in terms of people getting to them.”

More than 7,000 people signed a petition against the proposal to close the homes, which employ 62 staff.

They provide 31 beds for rehabilitation of elderly people after they leave hospital and 11 beds for longer-term care.

Eddie Sherwood, Sheffield Council’s director of care and support communities, told the meeting the move would reduce costs and replace ‘ageing’ facilities while still providing beds outsourced to the private sector.

But union leaders raised a string of concerns.

Dean Harper, area organiser for Unison, said opposition was ‘overwhelming’, centre beds were full and there were ‘far too many unknowns in this report, too many possibles and not enough guarantees’.

Peter Davies, from the GMB union, added there was currently a nationwide ‘crisis in care’ driven by private outsourcing.

The healthier communities and adult social care scrutiny committee’s report back to the council cabinet supported a recommendation to close the two centres.

It also raised concerns about the time taken to find a location for the new 120-bed unit and asked efforts to retain staff and skills were made.