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HAMPSHIRE 'FAILS TO INVOLVE INDEPENDENT SECTOR' IN ELDERLY CARE

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Over the past few years Hampshire CC has been developing 500 new in-house nursing home spaces. The bricks and morta...
Over the past few years Hampshire CC has been developing 500 new in-house nursing home spaces. The bricks and mortar are now beginning to be put in place and gradually the homes are beginning to open for business. Although the extra provision is to be welcomed from the outset the English Community Care Association has had major concerns about the lack of consideration for best value and the large amount of public money spent on the in-house services.

Bob Ferguson from the Hampshire Care Association and member of ECCA says:

'Hampshire CC's unique take on in-house services had always emphasised just how idiosyncratic is the brand of political Conservatism operating in that part of the leafy south. The£60m of public money which was earmarked for the county's nursing home project has for some time had their local authority peers shaking their heads in disbelief'.

'ECCA believes that double standards abound in the attitude of the public sector to independent homes in Hampshire. When Stephen Ladyman was in post as minister for community care he decreed that residential care was on the way out, whilst the DH was content to contribute£20m to the cost of building new care homes in Hampshire. With sky high unit capital costs, that do not include the land value, ECCA believes that there should be rigorous assessment, debate and accountability for such decisions when by all accounts the independent sector could have produced equally high quality homes on a much smaller budget.

'The latest barrage of puffery from Winchester on the sites coming on stream only serves to underline the credibility gap - unit capital costs of between£80k and£97k, a country mile more than an independent sector operator would expect to pay for a turnkey project. Heaven alone knows what their operating costs will be; the last estimate put them at something like£100 a week more than the highest price paid by the council. The quality of provision is undeniable. At that price it should be'.

The independent sector in Hampshire is on strong footing to argue that the public sector caused the destabilisation of the independent sector and it therefore seems immensely hypocritical for the same public sector authority to portray itself as a knight in shining armour.

Mr Ferguson concludes:

'The council have always claimed that their 500 beds would replace the capacity which fell into a hole while shrinking from the perceived threat of minimum standards. While the bare statistics may have a ring of truth, Hampshire has conspicuously omitted to mention their role with the shovel. There can be no doubt that their sub-standard prices were a significant contributory factor'.

Martin Green, chief executive of the English Community Care Association adds:

'As the largest representative body for community care in England, ECCA welcomes high quality provision, but calls for best value for money and in the Hampshire situation the lack of independent sector involvement seems to have ignored this fundamental concept'.

Hampshire CC responds

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