Page last updated at 19:56 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 20:56 UK

Charity giving up care contract

A specialist charity has given up a contract caring for terminally-ill people, saying it cannot provide the service with money the NHS is paying.

Sue Ryder Care has had a contract with Walsall Council, which organises such care on behalf of the NHS.

Seven companies providing general home care will take over the Sue Ryder work under a new system from the council.

The council said it tenders to get value for money, but decisions are not made on price alone.

'Significantly less'

The new system from the council will start in October.

The council negotiates contracts for providers of palliative care on behalf of itself and the NHS.

Palliative care is physical, emotional and spiritual care for a dying person when cure is not possible.

Sue Ryder Care said it did not re-tender for the palliative homecare contract since the charity did not feel it could provide the specialist service at the price offered by the council.

It added this was "significantly less" than the existing contract price.

Other organisations

Sue Ryder Care's head of business management, Paul Harper, said: "It is expected that Sue Ryder Care staff will transfer to other local care providers.

"This is the responsibility of all providers involved (new and existing) and Walsall Council as commissioners of the service, to ensure a smooth transition."

The council said Sue Ryder took "a commercial decision to withdraw from the tender process".

"The decision was theirs alone and the council cannot comment on it," the council's executive director of social care and inclusion, David Martin, said.

He said Shaw Community Services and West Midlands Home Based Care have been awarded contracts to be the main providers of palliative care after 1 October.

Mr Martin added that five other organisations have been approved to provide additional palliative care if necessary.

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