HEALTH and social care chiefs have been warned that £5.2 million worth of cutbacks being made over the next two years will hit women in Inverclyde hardest.

Greenock Telegraph: Inverclyde Council

Carers representative Christina Boyd spoke out about her fears as Inverclyde Integration Joint Board voted to approve a series of cuts, redesigns and reviews to save cash.

She warned that the female population who mostly take on the main caring role will be badly impacted by reductions like £1m being slashed from the adult self-directed support budget and a £257k cut to respite.

Mrs Boyd said: "There are a number of cuts, redesigns and increases in charges that will have an impact on the cared-for. And anything that impacts on those who are cared-for has a big knock-on effect on carers.

"Carers are predominantly women, so many of the people who will ultimately be affected by this will be women, and some of it won't be until a year down the line, because some of the cuts, sorry redesigns, don't come in until the second year.

"We are taking millions out of budgets that will affect various people who are carers - self-directed support, service redesign, anti-poverty.

"We all know that women are the big users of public services, it doesn't matter what services they are, women use them far more than men, so the female population in Inverclyde will be more impacted.

"I am disappointed about the the impact it will have on women."

Kate Rocks, Inverclyde's chief officer of health and social care, said she recognised that the burden of care falls on family members and particularly women carers.

But she added that senior management had made decisions on cuts based on their statutory responsibilities and duties.

She added: "Within that we wanted to make sure that the people with the most complex needs were protected throughout this process.

"It is very difficult and none of us want to be in this position."

The board gave the go-ahead for the full £5.2m package of cuts. In the first year this will include redesigns of day services and large scale reviews to reduce adult services and cut respite.

But the most severe cutbacks will come in the second phase in 2025/26, including a review of community alarm services, independent living, supported living and homemaker support. There will also be a further £500,000 reduction in self directed support for adults and residential nursing care home beds.

Some of this will be done by revisiting the eligibility criteria for services.

Board member Councillor Martin McCluskey said at the meeting the budget process had been challenging.

He added: "The more we go through this process the more we feel we are managing budgets that have been delegated to us that are ever, ever dwindling or more and more stretched. Thirty per cent of the council budget is now going towards health and social care.

"But that final page of this report scares the living daylights out of me. To put it bluntly we have struggled to close the gap this year, but the kind of gap by 2027, 2028 and 2029 is a concern. I don't see how we do it unless more funding is available or services are being cut to a point where some are no longer sustainable or safe."

Non-voting board member Diana McCrone, who represents staff and trade unions, said: "I have expressed my concerns before but it still needs to be said, the scale of some of these redesigns are huge."