Meals on Wheels out for tender

Date published: 05 January 2010

The Meal on Wheels service currently provided by the volunteers of WRVS has been put out to public tender by Rochdale Borough Council.

The tender document says: "Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council is committed to providing a quality meals on wheels service for the residents of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough for vulnerable adults wishing to access this service. We are seeking tenders from suitably experienced providers to deliver this service.

"The contract will be made up of 3 services, hot meals, frozen meals and delivery services. The council may award one, two or all services to one or single provider or to split the services between more than one provider to provide best value.

"Starting: 1.4.2010. Completion: 31.3.2013.

"The Council estimates that the total potential value of the contract is approximately £352,800 GBP to £1,323,000 GBP."

Following a request by Rochdale Online to comment, Father Paul Daly, Parish Priest of St Joseph's Heywood, said: "Meals on Wheels provides a quality service to those who need it in this Borough. I am not aware of any dissatisfaction among those who receive the service, provided so generously by volunteers.

"I have direct experience of vulnerable elderly being seriously let down by the changes already introduced dismantling in-house ongoing adult home care in this Borough. I have had conversations with those who work to support the elderly in Heywood and across the Borough who tell me that the transition from council-provided to entirely private adult care has been anything other than 'seamless', as the Council tried to have me believe.

"My fear is that once the Council start trying to change the very worthwhile Meals on Wheels Service the wheel will come off in a serious way and once again the elderly and the needy of our borough will be the losers. This is what happens when 'care' stops being a service to be provided and becomes a commodity to be bought and sold."

Father Daly also asked permission of the Chairman at Heywood Township meeting last night (Monday 4 January) to ask an emergency question under the umbrella of adult care and asked Councillor Dale Mulgrew about the tendering for Meals on Wheels. When Father Daly mentioned that the service was being put out to tender, there were gasps from the public gallery.

Father Daly asked whether the criteria for the successful bidder would include 'that the provision of a daily delivery of a cooked hot meal be continued and that such delivery be done by people who would not just hand the meal over but spend a few moments, if helpful, enquiring how the people were.' Councillor Mulgrew replied that the current providers were submitting a bid into the tendering process. Father Daly asked again whether the criteria above would apply. Councillor Mulgrew again side-stepped the question and replied that the current providers were submitting a bid.

Councillor Mulgrew's Lib Dem colleague Councillor Peter Rush attempted to stop questions even being asked but was over-ruled by the Township chairman.

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