A care service has been described as being in ‘total meltdown’ after staff were told there would be no new patient referrals unless at the end of their life.

The Care at Home in West Dunbartonshire provision is facing mounting challenges due to rising employee absence because of increased cases of long-term sickness.

It has resulted in the Interim Integrated Operations Manager at the Health and Social Care Partnership Jacqueline Carson emailing staff informing them they will be limiting the amount of new patients they will be taking on.

The email reads: “I know this is a really challenging time within the service, and your continued hard work and commitment to supporting the service and colleagues is very much appreciated.

“I have emailed out to colleagues across the HSPC and advised that home care will not be taking any further referrals unless the individual is sadly at the end stage of their life or hospital discharges.

“I will also be on discussions with senior management on what else we can do in the short, medium and long term to address the current situation.”

A source told The Dumbarton and Vale Reporter one of these measures is care staff not being granted annual leave due to levels of vacant roles and staff sickness levels.

However, West Dunbartonshire HSPC outlined their commitment to honour staff holidays in line with policy.

A spokesperson said: “We are committed to providing high-quality care and support to residents through our dedicated care at-home service.

“During this period of increased employee absence, the delivery of urgent care is being prioritised, and teams continue to assess need on a daily basis to ensure continuity of service.”

The HSPC Care at Home service aims to assist vulnerable people, of all ages, to live independently within their own homes wherever possible.

It provides care to adults living with dementia, disabilities, mental health needs and those living with other health needs or who are unable to be independent.