Trans­port bill to shift care home staff al­most £30,000

The Oban Times - - News - EMMA CRICH­TON ecrich­ton@oban­

AL­MOST £ 30,000 was spent on taxis and hire cars to ferry staff be­tween Fort Wil­liam and Mal­laig dur­ing nine months of the Mack­in­tosh Cen­tre care home’s clo­sure.

NHS High­land footed the £28,886.60 bill for 90-mile round trips be­tween Novem­ber last year and the re- open­ing of the eight-bed home in July, a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest made by the Oban Times showed.

‘The Mack’ was closed for a year from July 2014 amid al­le­ga­tions of poor prac­tise by staff mem­bers and res­i­dents had to be re­lo­cated to Fort Wil­liam’s In­vernevis House while en­quiries were con­ducted. The cen­tre re­opened six weeks ago, although in­ves­ti­ga­tions of man­age­ment con­tinue.

Monthly costs were at a low of £1,204 in Novem­ber last year, but rock­eted to a high of £10,096.29 in March. Some months had no fig­ure, as no in­voices were paid dur­ing this time. Com­mute costs in the four months be­tween the clo­sure and Novem­ber were un­avail­able for the same rea­son.

A spokesman for NHS High­land said: ‘These are costs that would not nor­mally have been in­curred.

‘The rea­son for the clo­sure of Mack­in­tosh cen­tre at that time was to en­sure the safety of res­i­dents and to en­sure their con­tin­ued care whilst at In­vernevis. There were no costs charged against the Mack­in­tosh bud­get be­fore Novem­ber 2014.’

A fam­ily friend of Mack­in­tosh res­i­dents, who fought to have the pen­sion­ers re­turned home but asked not to be named, called the sum ‘ab­so­lutely shock­ing’.

He said: ‘Imag­ine what that money could have paid for if it hadn’t taken so long to re- open the home.

‘Most car­ers are on min­i­mum wage [£6.50 per hour] so they could have paid a mem­ber of staff for a whole year and still have had plenty left over. For £ 30,000 they could have em­ployed a full-time carer and a part-time one.

‘It’s ab­so­lutely shock­ing how much has been spent and that’s on travel alone. On the plus side, the res­i­dents are re­ally happy to be back and ev­ery­thing seems to be run­ning smoothly in the home. The com­mu­nity events have gone down re­ally well.’

The Oban Times also asked NHS High­land how much money was spent on locum staff, af­ter em­ploy­ees re­sign­ing de­layed the re- open­ing even fur­ther.

A spokesman for the health au­thor­ity said bank staff had been used at In­vernevis dur­ing the pe­riod but they were un­able to de­ter­mine if this was as a re­sult of the Mack­in­tosh clo­sure or staff va­can­cies in the Fort Wil­liam home.

He said: ‘No bank staff were em­ployed at the Mack­in­tosh Cen­tre dur­ing the clo­sure.

‘Bank/agency staff were re­quired at In­vernevis dur­ing this pe­riod but this was as a re­sult of staffing lev­els and va­can­cies aris­ing in In­vernevis dur­ing this pe­riod not re­lated to the Mack­in­tosh clo­sure.

‘Bank staff may still have been re­quired in In­vernevis even if the Mack­in­tosh Cen­tre res­i­dents had not been there, how­ever, we are un­able to de­ter­mine this level of in­for­ma­tion within the 40 hours limit un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion (Scot­land) Act 2002.’

NHS High­land also de­nied claims there was a back­log of pen­sion­ers wait­ing to move in to In­vernevis House be­cause beds were filled by Mal­laig res­i­dents.

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