Care UK warned Norfolk County Council could pull plug on contract unless performance improves

New political leaders at County Hall. Sue Whitaker (Labour).Photo: Bill DarnellCopy: Shaun Lowthorpe

New political leaders at County Hall. Sue Whitaker (Labour).Photo: Bill DarnellCopy: Shaun Lowthorpe.For: EDPArchant © 2007 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2007

A health and social care provider has been warned by Norfolk County Council it could pull the plug on its contract to provide services in the Broadland area of Norfolk unless performance improves.

Sue Whitaker, the council's cabinet member for adult social services, said since Care UK's three year contract worth £4.2m started in July there had been problems and the council had received about 100 complaints about the service, adding she would have no qualms about pulling the plug on the contract and the company was being moitored on a daily basis.

She added: 'There have been a number of meetings with Care UK and they are very aware that if this does not improve, we will have no compunction about pulling the plug.

'One of the things we will be doing is contact every single one of the 271 users to ask them for feedback so we can get a picture across the piste.

'If it doesn't work, another company will be put in.

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'Work is going on in the background, so if we need to pull out there will be a smooth transition.'

Ms Whitaker added key improvements which needed to be made included visits being done on time, rotas being restructured, staff being recruited and supported and complaints being reduced.

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Conservative councillor Alison Thomas, who represents Long Stratton, asked whether Care UK, which has other contracts in Norfolk which have run smoothly, had over stretched itself.

She said: 'Clearly they were doing well with contracts in the past and it seems this is the straw that broke the camel's back. They bit off more than they could chew.'

But Harold Bodmer, director of community services at Norfolk County Council, said they were one of the biggest care operators in the country and the council could not have foreseen them having such problems.

Russell Baldwin, Care UK's director of care at home, said the problems had been caused by a number of employees from Extra Hands, the previous care provider, failing to transfer to Care UK when they had been expected to do so and a higher than normal level of summer annual leave not having been agreed with Care UK prior to the transfer.

He added 11 care workers had been recruited and a further 20 roles were being filled while rotas were being re-planned to 'restore a stable, consistent and reliable service for everyone we support,' while additional experienced management support had been put in place to liaise with anyone who is experiencing disruption, including missed or late visits.

'We are determined to resolve the problems that have been experienced in this particular area and are working very closely with the Council, our employees and, most importantly, the people we support to ensure that everyone has a stable and reliable service in the future,' he said.

Care UK supports 700 people across five contract areas in Norfolk, including 300 elderly people in Broadland.

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