Care company has contract cancelled

THE care company at the centre of a wages row has had its contract terminated by council chiefs.

Appletrees Homecare, which has Royston and Cambridge branches, have been told they will not be receiving any more work from Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) after an investigation was carried out by the authority.

The Crow had received several reports from staff at Appletrees complaining of unpaid wages, while one employee described her workload as “impossible.”

A joint statement from Claire Bruin of CCC and Alison Gilbert of Cambridgeshire Community Services (CCS), who delegate work to care companies, said: “We can confirm that Cambridgeshire County Council has decided to terminate its contract with Appletrees Homecare Ltd.

“This decision was taken following an investigation into concerns raised about the company’s ability to deliver the service commissioned.

“This decision has not been taken lightly. The welfare of vulnerable service users is of paramount importance to us and we recognise that this change may be a very unsettling experience for service users and their families.”

A Royston-based former employee of Appletrees who did not want to be named said that the company should have been shut down long ago after receiving a ‘poor’ rating from a Care Quality Commission investigation in April.

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“I don’t know why it takes so long for an investigation to be carried out when they where marked down as poor so long ago.

“They expected staff to do so much work. Between 8am and 9.10am I was asked to somehow fit in almost three hours worth of calls, and this was a regular occurrence.

Another employee complained to The Crow in October that she had wage problems for four consecutive months, and didn’t have enough money to buy petrol to get to her appointments.

Appletrees Chief Executive the Rev Sir Jonathan Sinclair was not available for comment.

Appointments previously undertaken by Appletrees have been given to Cambridge-based Home Choice Care, which has also given back-dated wages to those who had not been paid and offered work to former employees.

A Home Choice Care spokeswoman said: “We have taken over the contract that Appletrees had with CCC.

“Anybody who has asked to transfer has been transferred across so they have continuity of employment, and Home Choice Care has made a payment for overdue wages from Appletrees.”

“It’s a good outcome, as we now have continuity and we can continue to provide work to those that need it.”

The CCC and CCS statement continued: “We are working closely with Home Choice Care to make the transfer as smooth as possible and have written to all service users to explain the changes taking place.

“In addition, Home Choice Care has set up a freephone number to provide service users and their families with a rapid response to any concerns or questions they may have. Please call 0800 298 1398.”