Care company suspended from work

Investigation after complaints from staff

AN ORGANISATION that provides care for the elderly is under investigation after complaints were made over unpaid wages.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridgeshire Community Services, who between them place care work with companies, are launching the investigation into Appletrees Homecare, and have suspended them from being given any new work.

Several staff form Appletrees were on strike last weekend over unpaid wages, leaving many elderly people without vital care.

However, bosses from the South Cambridgeshire company, who are contracted to provide help with shopping, gardening work, cooking and companionship, have denied that wages are still yet to be paid.

An Appletrees staff member that contacted The Crow but did not want to be named, said: “This will be the fourth month there has been a problem with the wages.

“The first month was blamed on a mistake, which was later sorted out. Then they told us it had been messed up, and then only part of my wages was paid in.

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“I was due to be paid last Friday (October 29), but didn’t, so I refused to work over the weekend.

The worker also claimed that she had arranged to meet up with the company’s chief executive Rev Sir Jonathan Sinclair, but he had not shown up. She also said that he would not return calls or emails.

Rev Sinclair has denied this, saying he is always available to patients and that the problems have only affected a small number of workers.

“I take personal issue with staff that say they have tried to meet up with me. I am always available.

“We employ 96 staff, and not everyone has been affected. It has only affected eight key staff members,” he said.

Rev Sinclair has also said that this month’s wages were not paid due to a recent bereavement to the company’s chairman, who is responsible for the accounts.

“The chairman was cremating her husband at the time after suffering an unexpected bereavement.

“We are very sorry if the death has been an inconvenience to anybody,” he said.

He also added that this month’s wages had been fully paid after an accounting team was brought in, despite the staff member complaining to The Crow that they had not.

Claire Bruin, service director for strategy and commissioning for adult social care at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “The county council has been very concerned about reports it has heard about Appletrees Home Care.

“We have suspended placing any new work with this provider while we investigate how they are delivering the service.

“We have met with their chief executive to seek assurances regarding their staff, how they are working and evidence that they have the ability to deliver their service.

“We are now considering the information we have received to inform our future actions as our priority is the well being of the vulnerable people who are in their care.”

Alison Gilbert, director of clinical delivery for Cambridgeshire community services, said they were “extremely concerned,” and confirmed that the outcome of the investigation would determine whether further work was placed with Appletrees.