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Fees row causes care home chaos

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A row has erupted between Northumberland County Council and care home providers over fee levels.

Around half of care providers – accounting for 1,747 out of 2,806 homes in Northumberland – have refused to sign the new three-year contract, saying it would mean “going bankrupt,” The Chronicle reported.

The council is offering £522.51 for elderly and mentally ill residents (EMI) residential patients.

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Care North East say the current cost of providing residential EMI care is £554.63.

Care North East chairman Keith Gray has described the sum offered by the council as “wholly inadequate”.

“Providers can’t sign up to this contract – it would mean going out of business,” he said.

“Many of the providers that have signed up represent smaller homes that have no choice but to sign – if they lose one or two residents they’ll go out of business straight away.

“We are deeply concerned about what’s going to happen now the council are not making placements into these homes – before long it will mean people being stuck in hospitals because there are no care home beds for them.

“Northumberland has by far the lowest fee in the North East.”

A Northumberland County Council spokesperson said: “The Council is not refusing to make placements in any care home. The trade association which Keith Gray represents has advised its members not to sign the Council’s contract.

“The Council is committed to offering people who need a care home placement as wide a choice of options as possible, and has written to all care providers involved in the dispute to let them know that it will still make placements on ‘spot contracts’ in any care home which accepts the Council’s terms.

“The Council is also continuing discussions with the trade association, Care North East – Northumberland (CNEN), about the fee levels paid to care homes. It has asked CNEN to produce further evidence to support their claim that fee levels are inadequate, when fees in some other regions of England are lower than those paid in the North East.”

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The author Lee Peart

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