Last-ditch attempt to save threatened carers service

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MORE than 1,200 people have signed a petition to save a threatened carers service.

Staff at Carers’ Centre Hull say they have been bombarded with calls, emails and letters from carers concerned about Hull Council’s decision to award the three-year £1.5m contract to an NHS organisation, City Health Care Partnership.

The charity provides support to around 2,000 carers, who look after friends or relatives in the city, and operates several services, including a five-year outreach project funded by the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Programme, which it says is also in jeopardy because of the funding decision.

Greg Harman, who is manager at the Carers’ Centre, said: “People feel that often the support they need is pastoral and emotional in nature far more than medical. They are worried that a new provider will lack independence and not be able to represent their views and challenge the local authority and NHS when needed.”

A final decision lies in the hands of senior officer Trish Dalby after Labour council leader Steve Brady refused to step in.

The opposition has now tabled a motion for next Thursday’s meeting of full council in a last-ditch bid to get the decision overturned. “I’m thoroughly disgusted that this has gone this far,” said Lib Dem leader Coun Abi Bell. “There are clearly problems with this decision but Labour are just refusing to take any action.”

The petition, which is being handed in by carers on the front steps of the Guildhall tomorrow, will be presented to the same meeting.

Coun Dave McCobb said: “We’re going to take this issue all the way to the top because Hull Carers Centre is too good to lose.”

However health portfolio holder Coun Rilba Jones said the decision was “imminent” - and that the NHS funded over 80 per cent of the grant. She said: “The future for caring services is about joint funding and we have to work in partnership with the NHS.”