Ruffley Extracts Shocking New Figures on Suffolk Social Services and Care Home Places: 'Suffolk County Council Have Been Asleep at The Wheel on Care Homes and This Has Contributed to the County's Bed Blocking Crisis'

Tuesday, 23 December, 2003

David Ruffley MP has received a reply from Dr Ladyman from the Department of Health following a question he put down in Parliament.

David said: 'we all know that Suffolk County Council's own care homes for local older people are not as well run as they should be. For a start Suffolk County Council runs the average care home place with much higher running costs than the voluntary sector without a commensurately better service. In short, the free care that taxpayers' money pays for is delivered better in the voluntary and independent sector.

That is why even the Government and the independent Audit Commission agree with the Conservative Party that we need more care home places transferred out of council control into the independent and voluntary sector. These government figures show that Suffolk County Council has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to transferring care home places out of council ownership. As a result they are letting Suffolk's older people and their families down. The Council has made the bed blocking crisis worse.

In 2000/1 and 2001/2 neighbouring Essex County Council got on with this important job and transferred 680 of their care home places into the voluntary and independent sector. Cambridgeshire County Council managed 440 over that period. What did Suffolk manage? A big round zero. After two years of inactivity Suffolk County Council did manage 280 transfers but this is not enough and it is two years too late. I shall be urging Suffolk County Council to get on with the job of freeing up care home provision in Suffolk and encouraging the expansion of the independent and voluntary sector. This is the only way to end the bed blocking shambles in our county.

I have today written to Anthony Douglas, Director of Social Care Services, asking him to outline how quickly he will be transferring Council owned places into the voluntary and independent sector in the coming 12 months.'