Essex County Council pulls seven care home contracts

Essex County Council
Image caption Essex County Council has terminated contracts with seven care homes in the past five years

Essex County Council removed all of its residents from seven care homes in the past five years because of safety and welfare concerns, it has emerged.

Reasons including patient neglect and the condition of buildings meant the homes were forced to shut. Four no longer exist.

All residents were effectively re-housed elsewhere, the council said.

Figures also show the council temporarily barred 78 other homes from taking on its tenants over the period.

Such suspensions sometimes lasted a few weeks, but in several cases they lasted a number of years.

Homes to lose Essex County Council contracts (year) Reasons for closure
Daneley Court in Buckhurst Hill (2009) Building not fit for purpose. Apartments due to be built on the site.
Brick Barn in Thorpe-le-Soken (2012) Not specified. A new business is now on the site under a new name.
Ashcroft Care Home in Colchester (2012) Not specified. Home no longer exists.
Cowdray Avenue Care Home in Colchester (2012) Former owner prosecuted for neglect of residents. A new home now operates on the site with a different name.
Fairlawns in Clacton (2013) Failed Care Quality Commission's (CQC's) standards of care. Under new management and reopened to private tenants.
Upshire Residential Home near Waltham Abbey (2013) CQC found the home to be dirty and said residents were not protected from the possibility of abuse. Owner plans to reopen.
Queen's Park Court Care Home in Billericay (2014) Failed to meet CQC standards of care. Future not known.

The figures were obtained by BBC Essex following a Freedom of Information request to the county council.

The authority, which has contracts with 517 care homes, said deciding to remove residents was never taken lightly.

When homes are suspended, they can take on new private residents and those paid for by other authorities. The fact a county council suspension is in effect is not publicised.

Judy Downey, from the Relatives and Residents Association, said: "We get more phone calls in our association from Essex than any other county in the country.

"We know that there are a lot of homes in Essex that haven't come up to par."

Anne Brown, Conservative cabinet member for adult social care, said: "We are not going in there inspecting these homes, we leave that to the CQC, but as soon as anything is pointed out to us we send in our safe team and we spend a lot of time helping the management.

"We do support these homes, but we are trying to bring the bad homes up to scratch so the care provided to the residents is at a very good standard."

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