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Care home friends ‘being left in dark’ over hub move

UNHAPPY ... Friends of Connolly House spokesman John Finnon.
UNHAPPY ... Friends of Connolly House spokesman John Finnon.

SUPPORTERS of a care home in South Tyneside say they are being left in the dark over plans to relocate residents to a new £9m dementia hub.

The Friends of Connolly House (FOCH) – a group which represents residents in the specialist dementia centre, in Reynolds Avenue, Whiteleas, South Shields – say they’ve not been kept up to date over the home’s future.

The arrival of the hub in early 2016, which will be based at South Tyneside District Hospital, in Harton, Lane, South Shields, will see the closure of Connolly House, along with Perth Green House, in Jarrow. The new building, which is being planned by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, will house a range of health and social care services and provide support to older people, their families and their carers.

However, the Friends of Connolly House claim that council bosses have not been keeping them in the loop with progress.

John Finnon, a FOCH spokesman, said: “Representatives of FOCH who attended early meetings on this plan, and indeed offered support, were given assurances that they would be kept up to date and consulted on the plans, as details developed, with quarterly meetings.

“This has not happened.

“The campaign group completely accept the council’s need, under present financial conditions, to rationalise care provision and bring Connolly House into a new, purpose-built facility with other groups. But we were promised more meetings to discuss detail which have not been forthcoming.”

While staff at Perth Green House will be transferred to the new facility at the district hospital, the future is still uncertain for Connolly House workers – with posts being shed through voluntary redundancies and early retirements.

Mr Finnon added: “We have been told that the well-trained and extremely highly thought of staff at Connolly House will all be made redundant. This is both counterproductive and grossly unfair, indeed immoral.

“We feel it is important these highly-trained care staff are treated respectfully and are allowed to apply for the new positions on equal terms with other council employees, something we are told will not be permitted.”

South Tyneside Council was not available for comment.

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