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