Update: 93 Covid heroes face the sack

Monday 23 August 2021

Care staff working at Apthorp residential and day care service were told last Friday 20 August 2021 that Barnet Council had made the decision to close Apthorp.

There are approximately 93 care staff working at this location.

Apthorp provides services for vulnerable older people.

Apthorp was originally owned by Barnet Council until it was sold off with 10 other Council residential homes and day services to Catalyst Housing who contracted Fremantle Trust to take over the Council care workforce.

The current Apthorp buildings were part of a deal which meant Catalyst Housing were given all 11 real estate locations to develop for themselves and in return they would provide modern state of the art residential and day care services on four of the sites.

Only three were built.

What were the staff been told?

In a letter from their employer it states:

“the Council and Your Choice Barnet have taken the decision to vacate Apthorp Care Home by 31 October 2021. You will be aware that we have been carrying out some fire safety works in the building. Whilst all emergency works have been carried out, further surveys have taken place which highlight that significant levels of repairs are needed. The scope of works required in Apthorp Care Centre are extensive and would be extremely disruptive to residents of the home.”

At the meeting some staff responded to this devastating news by claiming that moving vulnerable residents from Apthorp to another home at this time will result in blood on someone’s hands because some of the residents won’t react well to the move.

There is documented evidence of the serious and sometimes fatal risks when moving vulnerable and elderly residents out of their homes. What is worrying about this plan is that Barnet Council are attempting to fast track the move of residents in less than two months which does not provide ample time to prepare and support vulnerable residents.

“Two decades to run down a service, wasted millions of public monies and now 93 Covid heroes are to be sacked.  

The world is upside down, seriously it is less than 12 months since our members were trying to care for vulnerable residents struggling to deal with Covid. There was no vaccine back then and the lack of PPE was an issue for members who were risking their own lives and those of their own family every day they went into work.

I won’t forget the fear in the voices of care workers as Covid was letting rip across Care homes. I can never begin to understand the terror our members were going through every day and all for the magnificent sum of £8.72 per hour! So here we are now August 2021 and our members have been told their workplace is closing, through no fault of their own.

Barnet UNISON will be supporting every single one of our members at this time we will also be seeking to find out who made this decision and why, this is not over. Keep watching this space…….”

(John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON).

“The workers at the care home and day centre will have their lives thrown up in the air some few months after banners at the care home proclaimed them as heroes for how they dealt with the pandemic. There has been absolutely NO engagement with staff, residents, their families or the trade unions at any point to consider how Apthorp could be made viable. The cornerstone of activism for people with disabilities – nothing about us without us – has been utterly and completely ignored.

The elderly and the workforce are ignored and presumably they are just furniture to be moved around as The Great and The Good see fit. They are not worthy of any consideration. They have received no apology for this shocking turn of affairs.”

(Helen Davies Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.)

“We know the Care workers are ‘fit for purpose’ – they worked through the most unprecedented times in living history giving care to the most vulnerable in our community – in many cases end of life care to the clients they obviously love while putting themselves and their loved ones in danger to deliver care for their patients.

Their reward? The Barnet Group have announced their plan to make 93 Covid Heroes redundant. To sack the very workers that a few months ago were described as ‘Heroes’ because the company they work for obviously didn’t complete any meaningful due diligence when transferring staff and buildings from Fremantle, begs the question as to who should be facing redundancy.” (Patrick Hunter Barnet UNISON Convenor Barnet Homes.)

“The planned closure of the Apthorpe care home is the latest Adult Care policy decision that will have a major impact on service users, job losses for care workers and another policy decision that will ultimately cost council taxpayers dearly.

It marks 22 years of knee-jerk decison-making by Barnet Council which havve been devoid of economic and social impact analysis and cost benefit analysis since Barnet’s care homes were privatised to a Catalyst/Fremantle ‘partnership’.

Some partnership when eleven homes left the Council and only three return twenty years later. So what has happened to the land of the other eight homes?”

(Dexter Whitfield, Director, European Services Strategy Unit)

End.

Note to Editors: Contact details: Helen Davies Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: Helen.Davies@barnetunison.org.uk

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

The Good News is that with the support of our Bin workers, Barnet Council has agreed to restore National Green Book Weekend and Bank Holiday rates of pay which will mean large numbers of our lowest paid members will be earning more money.

The Bad

In February 2021 Barnet UNISON submitted a proposal for a COVID thank you payment for all frontline workers, care workers, school staff, depot workers.

The Bad news is that this proposal was rejected.

Details of our proposal is here.

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/2021.02.11.-COVID-thank-you-payment.pdf

and the Ugly.

On Friday 11 June 2021 Barnet UNISON enters into negotiations with The Barnet Group and Barnet Council about the serious inequalities in the workplace that are bad for the health and well being of our members and their families.

End.