CHILDREN, the disabled and the elderly were just some of those hit by cuts agreed at a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) last Wednesday.

Despite public protests outside Clydebank Town Hall, the partnership’s chair, Councillor Marie McNair, put forward a motion recommending the approval of 20 cost-cutting measures – totalling £619,072 for health care and £596,703 for social care – as the HSCP looks to bring an overspend of more than £1million under control.

The budget is made up of a contribution of £63.422m from West Dunbartonshire Council and £88.05m from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Cuts such as removing night shift cover in sheltered housing complexes had been described by members of the public in a consultation as “unsafe” and “detrimental” to residents.

The HSCP agreed to increase the charge for blue badges, from just over £3 for three years to £20 for the same period; to review staffing numbers in mental health services and the social work team within adult care; and to reduce community-based support to children, young people and families.

In the motion, Cllr McNair recognised the budget was “challenging” and said: “It attempts to take a strategic approach to our budget saving and sets us on track to the best financial stability we can achieve.

“We recognise the massive commitment made by our staff and the resources needed to meet demand and need.

“There is much that is good within the budget and the approach that we have set out will allow us to deliver these services in a compassionate and effective manner.”

An amendment tabled by Cllr John Mooney suggesting that no cuts be made to the current health and social care services was not seconded, meaning the measures will be taken.

The cuts are expected to result in a reduction in the full-time equivalent of 16 posts. However, that does not mean there is a direct threat to jobs as staff are guaranteed positions within the partnership.

At the meeting, Unison official Peter O’Neill said: “From the joint trade union position we have got concerns about any potential job losses.”

Beth Culshaw, chief officer of the HSCP, responded by assuring those present that the partnership will look to achieve savings “with minimal impact on staffing”.

Meanwhile, Bailie Denis Agnew added: “West Dunbartonshire Council has a policy of no compulsory redundancies, so that sorts that out.

“There’s no threats to council jobs, that’s council policy. I moved that four or five years ago and that’s still in force. I will not accept any jobs being lost at all in my position on this council.”

However, Cllr Mooney insisted posts will still be lost as services are “rationalised” and said he expected increased pressure on departments as they lose staff.

He explained: “There’s a difference between job losses and particular people losing their jobs.

“They might be transferred to another job and the post will be lost. It could be something different to what they’re doing now.

“At some stage there will be an exhaustion of the options. There will come a stage where people will have to take a job or resign.

“We are redesigning services in a way that we are making savings on the budget, making a better service and redeploying staff in other roles. That’s OK.

“But deleting a certain post within quite a small staff complement in a particular service is going to have a particular impact on how we deliver a service.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr McNair said: “The partnership is confident it can address the financial challenge we face, by identifying new and innovative ways of working which will ensure we can deliver the same essential services more efficiently.

“No staff will lose their job as part of this process and there is a great deal of positive developments in this budget to be welcomed.”