Healthcare workers and carers won’t have to pay to park in Oldham while visiting vulnerable residents under new plans introduced by the town hall.
Cabinet member for health and social care, Councillor Zahid Chauhan made the reveal as they launched a groundbreaking mental health check for the borough.
It will mean carers working in the borough’s five ‘clusters’ will be able to get a parking pass rather than having to pay for the meter when they travel to look after residents.
Each cluster covers a geographical boundary of GP surgeries, and has an average population size of 50,000 patients.
Coun Chauhan said they are committed to supporting carers in Oldham despite the challenging financial climate for town halls, and have already invested £2.5 million in funding to pay them the living wage.
He added they know that care workers are currently under a ‘lot of pressure’ due to demand and cost cutting.
“Whatever money you offer them or pay them is still not enough for the work they do looking after the most vulnerable people in our society,” Coun Chauhan said.
“We know that these services are vital, we know that without the support of care workers we will struggle.
“Can you imagine a district worker, a health visitor, who is going to look after someone who really, really needs help – the first thing they have to do is try to find the parking, try and find the change, and then pay for the parking.
“And one of the promises I made a few weeks ago when we met with district nurses and other frontline staff is that we would look into that and thanks to the council again we formed a local solution to those problems.
“So I’m really pleased to announce that this council has decided to issue the passes to all the clusters where they can use those passes and they don’t have to pay for the parking.”
The council, through its partnership with the clinical commissioning group (CCG) have formed Oldham Cares; a ‘one system’ approach that includes other health and social care providers and the voluntary, community, social, faith and enterprise sector.
The Oldham Cares joint commissioning board has recently agreed to foot the bill for prescription charges for care leavers aged 18-25 who are in apprenticeships or employment.
And last week Oldham Cares unveiled the ‘Oldham health check’ which will extend the NHS health check offered to people over the age of 40 to ask them about their mental health.
People who reveal they are feeling isolated or down during the checks will be directed towards community and voluntary groups that can help them socialise, take part in activities and exercise.
“As a GP I see every day the difficulties our residents are facing and I also understand that the solution to some of those difficulties is not necessarily prescribing medication,” Coun Chauhan added.
“We need to have the health services on the doorstep if we really want to make a difference and be as responsive to the needs of residents as is possible.”