Latest Public Sector News

19.11.15

Councils and care providers to discuss urgent ways out of ‘care crisis’

Council leaders, care companies and major charities will come together in London today (19 November) for social care crisis talks amid growing fears that several providers will be forced out of the market.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, told the BBC that the meeting would be used to discuss contingency planning for potential mass home closures and the collapse of small providers as a result of steep cuts.

Talks closely follow an alarming report by think tank ResPublica warning that care homes face the prospect of losing up to 37,000 beds over the next five years, as reported by PSE’s sister title, National Health Executive.

ResPublica’s director, Phillip Blond, compared the imminent care crisis to the 2011 collapse of the massive care homes operator Southern Cross Healthcare.

But while the private sector stepped in and cared for those left homeless at the time, he said that the sector is now losing money for every funded resident – meaning there is no ‘provider of last resort’ anymore.

As well as providers and groups such as the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Age UK and Carers UK, members from the LGA will be at the meeting to represent councils – whose fees are increasingly failing to cover care providers’ operational costs and, as a result, triggering bed shortages and affecting the viability of smaller homes.

The lack of adequate funding also ultimately undermines any effort to integrate health and social care system, a priority which several healthcare bosses have been vocal about in recent weeks.

LGA’s spokesperson attending the event, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, told the BBC that there is already evidence that a lack of funding is causing providers to pull out of the care market entirely, shifting their attention to those able to fully fund their own care instead.

She had also said last week that health and social care leaders all recognise the importance of a properly funded care system to alleviate pressures on the NHS.

Without this, Seccombe said, councils are set to be “left struggling to keep people out of hospitals” and in their own homes instead.

The LGA has been continuously pointing to the knock-on impact of the underfunded social care sector in recent months, claiming in September that the critical shortfall in average state funding of about 8% for a typical care home placement was a significant contributory factor to the funding black hole.

In October, council representatives put a more defined figure to the crisis, urging the government to invest £1bn in preventative social care ahead of the now fast-approaching Spending Review.

But a Department of Health spokeswoman was quoted saying that no one will be left without care if homes close.

“We have put in place new laws which mean councils have a duty to keep their local care market health and support anyone whose care service has stopped because of financial failure,” she said, adding that future spending in the sector will be decided in next week’s Spending Review.

The subject has also been under the spotlight in social media. For more information, look up the #carecrisis hashtag on Twitter.

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