More than 20 North East care homes have sent a legal warning to North Tyneside Council declaring a major incident claiming the sector could crash within days.
The letter, written on behalf of Care North East which represents 21 of the 31 care homes in North Tyneside, warns that if funding isn’t providing within five days the care sector will begin to collapse, Sky News reports.
North Tyneside Council is accused of failing to provide sufficient financial support to help care homes meet the extra costs incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, North Tyneside Council has said that care homes were given a 5% increase in funding in April – along with a further 5% to help cover extra costs associated with the pandemic.
The legal warning says: “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 coronavirus 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.”
The letter continues: “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.”
The letter says additional 5% payments are calculated to the exclusion of those residents who fund their own care provision, yet who equally require Covid-19 care and protection.
It declares a “force majeure” which essentially frees both parties from their obligations under the contract due to an extraordinary event or circumstance.
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Chief executive of Care England, Martin Green, told Sky News: “Declaring this force majeure is something that has never really happened before so this tells us that we are in the midst of perhaps the worst situation we have seen in modern times.”
Jacqui Old, director of children’s and adult services at North Tyneside Council, 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.”