Grand Home Care has hit back at what it described as “innuendo” and “mud-slinging” levelled in the row over jobs at the John Mackintosh elderly residential wing.
In a lengthy statement, Grand Home Care questioned the way the government had gone about switching the contract for the provision of care to a new provider, MedDoc Healthcare.
The change of provider at the wing left 43 Grand Home Care employees facing short-term employment uncertainty.
While they have been promised jobs by MedDoc, their move to that company has not gone smoothly, leaving workers potentially facing several days without jobs or pay.
Earlier this week the Gibraltar Government described Grand Home Care’s handling of the transition as “appalling” and “shocking”.
But yesterday the company refuted those claims.
In its statement, Grand Home care questioned the government’s wisdom in switching from an established provider with years of experience to a new one “with little to no experience”, adding that if the issue was cost, Grand Home Care should have been approached to deliver a cheaper service.
Not only that, the one-month time-scale for the handover was “drastic”, adding that a staged handover would have been preferable, the company said.
Grand Home Care also took issue with statements by MedDoc that carers working in the wing would be retained and that, as such, continuity of care would be provided by staff who patients knew well.
If that was the case, Grand Home care added, “why change provider in the first place?”
The company noted too that using the existing experienced workforce at the wing meant costs associated with training and induction had already been absorbed by Grand Home Care.
It also questioned changes in the staff to patient ratios, which were set lower than had previously been the case when Grand Home Care had been asked to deliver the service.
Grand Home Care took issue too with claims that it had not agreed to an extension in the handover period, accusing the government of “impudence” by instructing that the switch take place on April 6.
It claimed MedDoc did not have sufficient personnel to deliver the service as required – MedDoc has refuted this publicly – and that staff had to be pulled in from other facilities to meet the required manning levels.
The statement from Grand Home Care drew a swift response from Neil Costa, the Minister for Health, who said he had three priorities in this matter.
The first was the care of Gibraltar’s elderly, and Mr Costa repeated earlier statements that the switch to MedDoc would have no detrimental impact on continuity of care.
“Indeed, I am confident that it will result in improvements in the provision of care,” he said.
Mr Costa also said he was concerned about the protection of workers’ rights, adding that the move away from Grand Home Care “seems self-evidently to be in the employees’ best interests.”
The government’s final criteria, he added, was value for money for the taxpayer.
“That is demonstrably something that is best guaranteed by moving from Grand Home Care to MedDoc,” he said.
“That is the beginning and end of it for the Government.”