apetito contract lose

 

MEALS ON WHEELS CHAOS AFTER PUB HANDED CONTRACT

New deal brought to abrupt end as council is accused of ‘royal mess-up’ on food service for the city’s elderly

Picture posed by models
DOOR-TO-DOOR A volunteer delivering a hot meal to a senior citizen

A PORTSMOUTH pub left in the firing line after a Meals on Wheels contract went disastrously wrong says Portsmouth City Council ‘royally messed up’.

The Duke of Buckingham, pictured, took over the service last Friday — April 1 — from long-standing provider Apetito after the council rejected its request to hike meal prices from £5.50 to £8 and ended its contract.

But a pub manager, who did not want to to be named, said: ‘They wanted us to do the whole of Portsmouth when we had only offered to do the Southsea area. ‘We did not have the capacity for that.’

The contract was ended abruptly on Tuesday, and the manager said the 160 recipients of the service in the city were now being given ‘a sandwich, a bottle of water and a biscuit’ instead.

Cllr Jason Fazackarley, cabinet member for health and social care said: ‘We have put measures in place to ensure people continue to get access to meals until we can get a permanent arrangement back in place.’

THE decision to have a pub run the meals on wheels service in Portsmouth has been abandoned by the city council after less than a week, leaving some people with ‘a sandwich, a bottle of water and a biscuit’ instead of hot food.

The Duke of Buckingham took over the service last Friday (April 1) from longstanding provider Apetito after the council rejected its request to hike meal prices from £5.50 to £8 and ended its contract.

But a start, which a pub manager admitted had been a ‘disaster’, saw the council end the new arrangement on Tuesday, despite claims these issues had been resolved.

A council spokesman said they had been ‘let down’ by the business and said ‘we still have significant concerns that the Duke of Buckingham will not be able to deliver the quality of service that we expect’.

‘We have put measures in place to ensure people continue to get access to meals until we can get a permanent arrangement back in place,’ cabinet member for health and social care Jason Fazackarley added.

Councillor Kirsty Mellor, the Labour opposition spokeswoman for his portfolio, said she had been made aware of issues with the service through a relative of someone affected.

‘They had a family member who relied on the meals on wheels service,’ she said. ‘Deliveries were timed to arrive at set times when carers were in to help and they just weren’t coming – it was a complete mess.

‘It’s vital that these people are getting nutritious cooked meals, they can be particularly poorly or need to have food to take their medication with and not getting this right can be really detrimental.’

An email sent by the director of adult social care Andy Biddle said ‘initial challenges’ included ‘local providers not responding to our contacts, inaccurate information being handed over from the existing provider and difficulty with setting up some payment details’.

The service was run by Solutions & Hospitality Caterers, the pub’s catering arm. It has been providing hot meals throughout the pandemic and was recognised by the council which awarded it a ‘Coronavirus Civic Award’.

A pub manager, who asked not to be named, accused the council of ‘slandering’ the business, saying the council had ‘royally messed up’ the contract.

‘We were given a contract from the start of April,’ they said. ‘They wanted us to do the whole of Portsmouth when we had only offered to do the Southsea area. We did not have the capacity for that.

‘The first day was a bit of a disaster and we had to shut the pub to be able to carry out all the deliveries. We also weren’t given keypad numbers to get into people’s homes.

‘Things got better on Saturday and Sunday and on Monday we had everything sorted. But on Tuesday they gave us half an hour notice, saying the contract had been ended. We had to throw away all our meals.’

She said the 160 recipients of the service in the city were now being given ‘a sandwich, a bottle of water and a biscuit’ instead.

Responding to the claim, a council spokesman said ‘most’ people were still being given hot meals, ‘however some we were unable to arrange this for have received a cold meal’. They said hot meal deliveries would fully resume on Monday.

‘We had been exploring a model to use a number of local providers who could cover the city between them, meaning we provide the service people rely on while supporting local businesses,’ they said. ‘The plan had been to work with a number of organisations which would cover the city between them with the Duke of Buckingham serving PO1, PO4 and PO5.

‘Unfortunately, despite carrying out our usual due diligence on suppliers, we have been let down by some of these businesses.’

Mr Biddle said council staff had worked throughout the weekend to help with deliveries and that it had recruited a care agency ‘to support with logistics’ with a mix of care workers and council staff now delivering meals.

‘Following a number of concerns we have ended the pilot,’ he said. ‘We are really sorry to those this has affected and are working to resume a full meals on wheels service soon, with temporary systems in place to ensure no one goes without a meal if they need one.’

It’s vital that these people are getting nutritious cooked meals

Councillor Kirsty Mellor