Health chiefs warn number of poor performing Suffolk care homes could pose problems this winter

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Health commissioners have highlighted concerns over the number of poorly-performing care homes in Suffolk, which they say could pose “major challenges” this winter.

The Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group’s (IESCCG) trust board meeting on Tuesday heard there were still 40 homes rated as “requires improvement” in the county and a further seven deemed “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Homes that are found to be failing to meet standards can be prevented from admitting new residents, which board members felt could pose problems over the coming months.

Imran Qureshi, a GP at The Leiston Surgery, said: “At the moment we have 40 care homes that require improvement and seven that are inadequate.

“This is a significant proportion of our care homes capacity that is being held on pause, which, prior to winter is a major challenge.

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“We have been talking about how we can support care homes and how we can speed up that improvement.”

According to the trust’s “integrated performance report”, the 47 homes rated either inadequate or requires improvement, represents more than a quarter of the county’s care homes.

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The report said a new CCG care home strategy was being developed across the county to meet these challenges.

Jan Thomas, chief contracts officer at IESCCG, said discussions were also being held with the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, an organisation, which works with vulnerable people in the county.

From these discussions, Ms Thomas said there appeared to be other challenges in care provision in people’s homes.

She said “very rural provision” was a significant issue.

“There are some pockets in the county where it’s incredibly difficult to find care,” she added.

Care homes have been a regular topic of concern over recent years.

Earlier this month it emerged that the number of safeguarding concerns raised in Suffolk last year – including reports of physical, sexual and emotional abuse against vulnerable adults – increased by 45% compared to the previous 12 months. More than 1,000 of these concerns were raised about care in homes.

Rebecca Hopfensperger, who is responsible for adult care at Suffolk County Council, said safeguarding vulnerable adults was a “key priority”. But she said the increase was “positive”, because it shows people had the confidence to report these issues.

The Labour Group at Suffolk County Council had put forward a motion earlier this year proposing a new council-run training programme to support care home staff and improve standards.

The motion was voted down by a majority of councillors.

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