Care home crisis in Portsmouth is ‘unnacceptable’, minister says

Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP.
Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP.
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A HEALTH minister has admitted Portsmouth’s care home crisis is ‘unacceptable’ after almost half the city’s facilities were rated as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’.

Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP, said the situation needed to improve and pledged the government was doing what it could to support local authorities.

It comes after data compiled by older people’s charity Independent Age showed 46.5 per cent of care homes in the city have the bottom two ratings. It is one of seven areas with a figure higher than 40 per cent.

Ms Dinenage, who is the Conservative adult social care minister, said: ‘Everyone should be able to access high-quality care wherever they are in the country.

‘While nationally 81 per cent are rated good or outstanding, it’s unacceptable that some local authorities are falling short.’

She added the government had changed the law so councils must ensure people in need of care have a ‘meaningful choice’ of services.

As part of this, local authorities had been provided £2bn in funding with a further £150m announced earlier this year.

However, critics have said the cash is nowhere near enough to support council-run services after years of Tory-led austerity, which has seen local authority budgets slashed over 10 years.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said more money urgently needed to be pumped into the city to prop up a social care that is ‘in crisis’.

The Labour MP said: ‘We’ve got air pollution levels that are far too high, we’ve got a third of children living in poverty, we’ve got social care in crisis.

‘That’s why we need to make sure we see the investment that Portsmouth needs. It’s a city that’s on the up but that’s sadly been let down too often by the government.’

As previously reported, Independent Age blamed low levels of funding from local authorities, poor pay and difficulties recruiting staff, as well as the lack of a good support mechanism for struggling homes to call upon for the city’s poor results.

Janet Morrison, chief executive, said: ‘Older people and their families are still facing an unenviable choice between poor care homes in some parts of the country. While it is encouraging there has been an overall improvement in quality, this masks persistent variation in the quality of care homes within each region of the country.

‘The market simply does not seem to be able to drive the rapid improvement needed in many areas.’