People who have been helped by a key health team which is at risk from a council shake-up have hit out at the plan.
South Tyneside Council is consulting with unions and staff on proposals to close the Home Assessment Reablement Team (HART) and develop a Help to Live at Home service instead.
The HART service works with patients who have been discharged from hospital for up to six weeks to support them to maintain their independence.
The council says it is looking at how this support is delivered to ensure that it meets the “more complex needs of service users” future.
Unions fear the service will be contracted out.
The HART team is organised from an office at Haven Court - in the grounds of South Tyneside Distroict Hospital - but staff work in the community.
The consultation period is due to close at the end of this month, but the announcement has already been called ‘disgraceful’ by members of the community who are keen to see it stay.
Here is some of the reaction on our Facebook page:
Heather Ditchburn Curry said: “My mother has had the HART team twice after suffering strokes and they were fantastic with her. It’s an absolute disgrace if they remove this service.”
Lisa Jayne Davenport added: “I worked for this service and it was so important in the community.”
Gail Spencer commented: “It’s so sad as people need this service and support on discharge from hospital.”
Trish Jones posted: “It’s a disgrace and another step to privatisation.”
Sarah Pascoe added: “I received good care from the HART team. Sad news.”
Judith Moiser commented: “The HART team were invaluable when my mother in law came out of hospital. “South Tyneside need to keep this great service.”
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing, said: “HART has been providing a valuable service for a number of years, however we need to design future services that can adapt to meet the more complex needs of our service users.
“The current model is inefficient and not as effective as it could be.”
UNSION bosses say the removal of this service will cost more than 70 jobs.
Janet Green, UNSION branch secretary, said: “The HART team is a vital public service that helps in the rehabilitation of people who have suffered from illness and saves them from going into full time care homes.”