A report going to Salford City Council's Cabinet tomorrow, recommending a cut of £1.616million in the Health Improvement Service (HIS), sets out in frank detail how many Salford people will be hit by slashing the service in half...
Healthy lifestyles and wellbeing programmes was helping 3,000 people – post-cut 500; Mental wellbeing courses; pre-cut 1,500 - post-cut 1,000. Young people's wellbeing programmes; pre-cut 500 – post-cut 0. Wellbeing courses for those out of work; pre-cut 874 – post-cut 400.
These are just a selection of the thousands of people in the city who will be affected by the Cabinet decision. Yet the report being discussed states there will be `no expected impact' on vulnerable people – and therefore there is no need for a public consultation.
A public meeting last week in Swinton, which drew dozens of Council workers, service users and anti-cuts campaigners, heard how vulnerable people will be affected. An ex-nurse stood up and told how groups at Clegg Lane Church in Little Hulton do intergenerational work and help people with mental health issues...
"These people have profound difficulties, yet there has been no evidence of consultation taking into account their needs" she said "I'm appalled; the process is unfair."
Rev Avis Gordon, Associate Minister at St Thomas' C of E Church in Clifton Green, who was also at the meeting, later issued a statement underlining the sentiments...
"There are various initiatives taking place in our church community room which would not happen but for the support of this service" she explained "We run a lunch club for elderly and lonely people. We have received a grant from the Clinical Commissioning Group because of the health needs of our parish and it operates with the help of two members of Health Improvement. For the Council to say that they do not service vulnerable targeted groups is therefore nonsense."
"The Team also provide various sessions like Kurling for people with disabilities, Healthy Eating, Mental Health Support, etc" she added "Our parish has already seen the closure of the local primary school, youth centre and elderly persons' day centre. Anti-social behaviour is noticeably on the increase. The groups that the HIS provide now remain the only input for the community.
"The local demographic means that there are willing volunteers, but support and leadership are essential or nothing will take place" she concluded "There are only so many cuts that vulnerable people can take and I strongly feel that my parishioners have already suffered too much. Reduction in the HIS will be the final straw that breaks this community irrevocably."
The Council report states that it will be able to `mitigate the impact of the savings'; that, where services `have been reduced or stopped, they will be delivered in a similar way or are already being offered by other providers'; and that it will `work with volunteers' to `support existing groups to become more independent'.
Salford City UNISON, which represents workers in the Health Improvement Service, disagrees and states that front line staff will be reduced from 48 at present to 20 after the cut, with at least 14 threatened with compulsory redundancy and those remaining suffering pay cuts and loss of terms and conditions...
"These cuts will have a profound negative effect of those most in need in Salford" it explains "People with mental health needs, women, refugee and asylum seekers, those struggling with obesity amongst others will see their support severely reduced if not removed altogether. However, the Council claim that this cut will have no impact on services!
"These workers spend 80% of their working day in direct contact with service users" it adds "This is despite the fact the proposal will see the Service be reduced by more than half. Salford has some of the worst health Inequalities in Britain. The differential between mortality rates within the City are growing. The Mayor and The Council have pledged to reduce this and encourage healthier lifestyles yet they are cutting the service that is designed to address this. We request that Salford Council Cabinet reconsiders and puts the changes out to meaningful public consultation."
UNISON has called a lobby of the Council Cabinet tomorrow morning and is urging as many people as possible to sign its petition in support of the Health Improvement Service...
Lobby of Council Cabinet
Tuesday 28th April 9:15am-10am
Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton
Sign the petition – click here
For more details see previous Salford Star articles...
Health Improvement Services To Be Axed - click here
Nine Groups Slam Cuts to Health Improvement - click here