A group of northeast care homes has warned their local council they face “imminent collapse” if action is not taken in five days.
The letter sent by Care North East, which represents 21 of the 31 care homes in North Tyneside, which accuses the council of undermining the sector, was revealed by Sky News.
In the letter the care homes declare ‘force majeure’ effectively freeing both parties from contractual obligations due to extraordinary circumstances.
It reads: “This letter stands as our client’s formal notice to the council that the care home market within North Tyneside is facing imminent collapse due to the council’s conduct in the lead up to and during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“The council has through its own sustained actions over a number of years, weakened and undermined the sustainability of the care home market; such that the market is incapable of withstanding the costs and effects of COVID-19 … As vacancies increase due to deaths, with fewer and fewer (if any) new admissions, the running of homes within North Tyneside is becoming increasingly unsustainable.”
Jacqui Old, Director of Children’s and Adult services, said: “We recognise there are additional pressures on North Tyneside’s care sector during the pandemic. The sector is hugely important to us and we have listened to the concerns of our providers to see what extra funding and support they may need, as the crisis continues; we are working hard together to keep staff and residents safe.
“In April, in line with many other local authorities, we provided a 5% increase in funding along with an additional 5% to cover other COVID-19 costs.
“In addition to this we are discussing additional bespoke financial support to care homes.
“Occupancy levels have been affected by the pandemic and we are aware where levels have fallen below where they are ordinarily expected to be. Where this has happened we are working with those providers directly in line with our statutory duty.
“We remain in daily contact with all our care home providers in the borough to understand their concerns and the unique challenges they are facing during this unprecedented time.
“As well as funding, we have provided support with recruitment, have redeployed council staff to work in care homes, have worked alongside NHS colleagues to provide specialist training, and the delivery of at least 20,000 items of PPE to top up providers’ own supplies and help to protect both staff and residents.”