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Cambridgeshire cancels private care home provider's £64m contract after poor performance

01 November 2022

HC-One, a care provider, which had a home in Cambridgeshire closed by the national regulator, is to have its contract cancelled by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The Council has told HC-One, a provider of health and social care, that they will no longer be contracted to provide care home beds under the terms of a ‘block contract’ - worth £64million over 15 years.

This follows the County Council calling in the national regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), to investigate persistent concerns about quality of care at The Elms care home in Whittlesey, which last month led to their order to close the home, one of the five which HC-One operates in Cambridgeshire.

The CQC inspection report detailed poor performance, poor decision making and concerns regarding the standards of care at The Elms.

The ‘block contract’ arrangement involved a guaranteed payment in exchange for an agreed number of 99 beds across the company’s care homes. This cancellation also means that Cambridgeshire County Council will no longer refer new residents into HC-One's homes.

The County Council offered to buy the affected homes from HC-One, but this offer was rejected by the company. The County Council has confirmed that this offer remains on the table.

The Council has provided a range of support for the HC-One care homes over a two-year period, but regrettably they have not made sufficient improvements. Part of the decision to cancel the contract is to no longer guarantee payments to a care provider which cannot sustain improvements.

The Council will not be making new placements with HC-One, but existing residents will be given the option of staying in the remaining three homes run by the company locally if they wish. The authority will continue to monitor these homes to ensure the quality of care is sustained for those residents who wish to remain, and to explore options should they wish to move.

The Council, working with partners, residents and families, has successfully found new homes and accommodation for the 25 residents at The Elms. County social workers will now do this for residents at the Manor House care home near Ramsey, which HC-One have also decided to close.

The decision not to refer at this time any new residents will affect HC-One’s remaining three care homes in Cambridgeshire - The Red House in Ramsey, The Cambridge in Chesterton and The Gables in Whittlesey.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Richard Howitt, Chair of the Adults and Health Committee, said: “Our action reflects how deeply disappointed we are by the poor performance of HC-One regarding The Elms. We worked with the provider over a sustained period to improve the quality of care at The Elms.

“We acted quickly in calling in the regulator and now we are acting quickly to ensure the provider does not continue to benefit from a substantial sum of public money, which we believe can be better spent elsewhere.

“We have many other brilliant providers offering excellent care, so it is right that HC-One is held to account regarding its poor performance. It is the duty of the Council to act.

“I remain concerned that the company will not allow the Council to take over the homes, which would have allowed all existing residents to stay. I invite HC-One to publicly explain its reasons.

“I’d like to thank our council workers who have worked tirelessly in a short time frame with residents at the Elms and their families, and have been successful in finding new homes for them that meet their needs and wishes.

“I’d also like to reassure residents in other HC-One homes that we remain committed to making sure that they receive the standards of care that meet their need – either in their existing homes or to explore other options if that is their wish. We will be continuing to monitor the performance of HC-One in these homes closely.”

The CQC report on The Elms can be read here: The Elms Care Home - Care Quality Commission (cqc.org.uk)

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