Union chiefs have welcomed the news that civic bosses will look at the current provision of care for elderly people in Hartlepool following the closure of another of the town’s homes.
The Mail reported earlier this week that nursing bed availability in the town is at “crisis point” following the closure of Manor Park Care Home, which closed in the summer with the loss of around 25 nursing care beds.
As of August 15 there were no nursing beds available in Hartlepool and 25 residential care beds.
Unison has today welcomed a move by Hartlepool Council to seek assurances from the local Clinical Commissioning Group that a growing “crisis” in provision within the sector will be addressed.
Councillor Stephen Thomas, chair of the council’s Adult Services Committee, has described nursing bed availability as being at ‘crisis point’ and has set up a task group to look into ways in which the authority could have a more direct role in providing services in the future.
Mike Hill, regional organiser for Unison, said: “We are pleased that the council is seriously looking to find ways of improving the provision of elderly and domiciliary care within the borough, including having a more direct role and putting an end to the uncertainties resulting from a virtual monopoly of private and third sector provision.
“As previously stated the landscape of elderly care is changing, especially around dementia and respite care, and residential care needs to be fit for purpose for the 21st Century.
“For example the issue of bed blocking alone in Acute Hospitals is costing the NHS nationally £820million per year because of a crisis in residential care and there is a real need for adequate funding to be made available by Central Government, following six years of cuts.
“We need to ensure people can be cared for with dignity and respect in their communities and Hartlepool Council is right to look to the future and seek new and more secure ways of meeting the needs of its elderly population.”
Jeanette Willis, the council’s head of strategic commissioning, said the closure of Manor Park by Four Seasons Health Care due to financial reasons, coupled with three other closures in January has had “a significant impact” on availability of both residential and nursing beds.
The council has now set up an officer-led task group to explore ways the local authority could have a more direct role in providing services for older people from care in people’s own homes to residential.