Almost 10,000 care home beds have been lost in five years across half of England’s local authorities, retirement mortgage specialist Responsible Life has revealed.
The analysis of CQC data found 9,772 beds have been lost in 75 local authority areas, while the number of overall beds rose from 401,322 to 407,058.
Steve Wilkie, Managing Director of Responsible Life, said: “The number of beds country-wide has actually gone up, so we know a drop in the number of beds in half of authorities is not part of a wider change in how people want to access care in later life.
“In fact, what we are seeing is a postcode lottery unfold. If this trend isn’t reversed, it is going to get even tougher to access care in certain areas in the coming years.
“For some it will mean lack of availability and subsequently higher costs forcing them to delay accessing the right care at the right time, while others may feel they are better off financially paying for assistance at home.
“The danger is that some retirees will inevitably choose to remain in homes that do not meet their requirements. It is imperative that people consider all their options and make informed choices well in advance.”
Sunderland saw the greatest decline in care home bed numbers outside of London, losing 15.3% of them in the past five years (see table below). Bracknell Forest and Hartlepool have seen similar falls, at 15.1% and 14.3%, respectively.
Of the 150 local authorities in England, only 74 have more care home beds than they did in 2014, while two — Hammersmith and Fulham and Newham — have stayed the same.
Overall, the number of care homes in England has fallen from 11,113 in 2014 to 10,878 in 2019, declining in 86 of the 150 authority areas.