Fears have been voiced over a decision to close down a key social care team in South Tyneside.
Seventy-one jobs are set to go after South Tyneside Council confirmed that the Home Assessment Reablement Team (HART) will close as it looks to revamp adult social care services in the borough.
Union chiefs fears the council plan to contract out the service - which supports people who are re-adjusting to living in their own homes after a stay in hospital.
The teams administrative office is at Haven Court, in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital but the move will have no impact on the new £9m facility because the staff work with patients at their homes.
The decision follows a consultation and the council says that a wider Help to Live at Home service will be developed in its place.
Janet Green branch secretary of UNISON said: “This is a really sad day, not just for the residents in South Tyneside, but for the 71 staff who have lost their jobs.”
The council says it aims to improve the service to patients and save about £1million a year.
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing, said: “This is not about stopping services but is about changing the way in which they are provided – so that they are fit for purpose and make best use of the limited funds we have.”
Gazette readers have been quick to voice their concerns on our Facebook page.
Caroline Hall said: “Disgusting. There isn’t another group in South Tyneside who can deliver this service to the high quality the staff from HART can.”
Linda Grierson added: “So these poor patients are either going to bed block because no one is sure they can manage at home or be discharged to an uncertain future. A scandalous decision.”