Suffolk: Poulter calls for inspections of all Care UK homes in the county

Dr Dan Poulter MP

Dr Dan Poulter MP - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council is to stop sending any more residents to new Care UK home in the county until its staff are satisfied by the management of the company’s properties.

The blanket ban is revealed in an open letter to Suffolk residents from council leader Mark Bee and adult care spokesman Dr Alan Murray which was published in yesterday’s newspaper.

It says: “We are meeting the Managing Director again this week to hear how he is ensuring the necessary improvements are being made.

“This is critically important, as we will want to be confident that before another home is opened in Suffolk all necessary steps have been taken to ensure that strong local leadership, high quality training and first class care are the bedrock of every single one of their homes in Suffolk.”

Their intervention comes after the Labour group at the council spoke of their disbelief over the fact that the Care Quality Commission has not yet inspected Care UK homes in the county.

Mr Bee said the council would not allow any of the residents of care homes in Lowestoft that it pays for to be moved to Care UK’s new property at Britten Court until it had been fully satisfied by the company.

He said there were concerns that there might not be enough experienced, trained staff at the home which is due to open at the end of this month.

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Meanwhile Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP and junior health minister Dr Dan Poulter wrote to the Care Quality Commission asking for it to sent inspectors in to all 14 Care UK homes in the county.

Dr Poulter, who piloted the government’s flagship care bill through the House of Commons, said it was vital all the company’s homes were given a clean bill of health after the suspension of new county council admissions at two of its new properties.

Mildenhall Lodge opened in June, but by the end of July county council admissions had been suspended after the CQC found it failed in four of the five criteria it was judged against in an inspection.

Asterbury Place in Ipswich opened in July – but last week new county council admissions were suspended after an emergency inspection by Suffolk County Council’s safeguarding team. It has not yet been inspected by the CQC.

Dr Poulter said the two incidents in two of the most modern care homes in the county had led to widespread concern in Suffolk.

In his letter to CQC chairman David Prior Dr Poulter says: “You will be aware that a recent CQC inspection of the Care UK home in Mildenhall found dangerously poor levels of care, and that Suffolk County Council were also extremely concerned by a recent visit they performed to a care home run by Care UK in Ipswich.

“As both a doctor and as a local MP I am honour bound to ask you to investigate this matter.”

Dr Poulter had recently visited two Care UK homes in his constituency, Lehmann House in Wickham Market and Paddock House in Eye and found residents happy and well looked after by experienced staff.

However he was aware that some experienced staff had left the company when new homes were built to replace existing properties and staff were offered new jobs at lower wages.

A spokeswoman for the CQC said the inspection team would consider the letter from Dr Poulter very carefully.

She said: “We inspect most hospitals, care homes and home care agencies at least once a year as routine, and carry out responsive inspections when concerns are raised over a provider’s compliance with the standards.”

Care UK’s managing director for residential care Andrew Knight said: “We are absolutely committed to delivering a good standard of care in all our homes and we apologise that some aspects of the care we provide has fallen short for some residents in the early weeks of the operation of new homes.

“We are working very closely with Suffolk County Council and the CQC to ensure that all the outstanding issues are resolved and that the new homes can continue to open as planned.”