THIRTY-THREE staff at a multi-million pound care development in Hartlepool have been temporarily laid off without pay before the facility has even opened.
The care workers employed by Mariner Care, to look after vulnerable adults at the new Burbank Mews complex, off Burbank Street, in Hartlepool, started working for the company in November and December last year in preparation for its first residents.
But, 33 of the 41 employed staff were informed that they have been laid off for a month.
The company says the delay is nothing to do with finances, but is due to “procedural timing” of it obtaining the correct legal applications from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) - the Government watchdog which regulates such premises.
Mark Goodman, interim chief operations officer of Mariner Care, said no service users have been affected as no-one has yet been admitted into the complex.
He said: “Mariner Care can confirm that a number of its staff have been laid off temporarily for one month.
“This has been an immensely difficult decision for us to make, but is because Mariner Care has had to postpone its opening until appropriate registrations are received to ensure we are fully and properly prepared to deliver an innovative service to adults with autism and learning disabilities.
“We have assured staff that we will keep them informed of all progress and developments and we look forward to Mariner Care admitting its first service users in the near future.”
A spokeswoman for the CQC said: “Providers – including individuals, partnerships and organisations – who are responsible for providing health and adult social care services regulated by CQC are required by law to register with us.
“We operate a rigorous and robust registration process so we can be satisfied that potential providers are committed and able to deliver high quality and compassionate care.
“This then allows us to do our job properly in making make sure people are receiving safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led services that we expect – and that they deserve.
“It is a criminal offence for providers to carry on delivering any health and social care services we are required to regulate without being registered.”
The care home was officially unveiled in December last year by Hartlepool Borough Council chief executive Dave Stubbs and Councillor Robbie Payne, the chairman of the council’s Regeneration Services Committee.
The development, which comprises of bungalows built on the former council-owned Bridge Youth Centre site, was said to create 57 jobs by the end of March when the scheme was expected to be fully occupied.
The properties – two of which have four bedrooms and the others two bedrooms – will provide 24-hour care to 12 vulnerable adults with a range of challenging behaviour and learning disabilities.
They have been built for Mariner Care by the Robertson Construction Group and represent the first phase of an investment that is eventually expected to total more than £4.5m.