Union bosses have made a last-minute call to halt a plan to close a key South Tyneside healthcare service.
South Tyneside Council announced it was consulting with staff on plans to close down the Home Assessment Reablement Team (HART) - which is based at the new £9m health hub in the grounds of South Tyneside Hospital - and provides home care for people who have just come out of hospital
Unions fear the council will contract out the work.
A consultation period on the future of the service comes to an end today - with a decision set to be announced in the coming days.
Health union UNISON have raised its final concerns over possible privatisation.
Gemma Taylor, South Tyneside Public Services Association co-ordinator, said: “We still believe that this is a vital service in the community that it is best placed in the hands of the public service. We expect a decision on its future to be made some time at the end of this week. “We feel that people get the best service when it is delivered by a public service. “Our issue is that HART should be best placed in the community and not be privatised.”
She added: “Our concern is that if it goes to a private organisation people will not get the best service.”
The team of 70 supports people who are re-adjusting to living in their own homes.
Council bosses are looking to close the team and develop a ‘Help to Live’ at Home service.
Should it go ahead, more than 70 jobs could be lost.
They say they are looking at how support is delivered to ensure that it meets the more complex needs of service users in the future and fits into an integrated adult social care model.
A spokesman wished to make no comment on today’s deadline