Care firms’ fears for patient safety

Lee Flowers one of many people who will be affected by the County Councils cuts to the health service
Lee Flowers one of many people who will be affected by the County Councils cuts to the health service

The safety of vulnerable patients discharged from King’s Mill Hospital is being put at risk because services are not in place to care for them when they get home, Nottinghamshire home care providers have warned.

Companies contracted to carry out care at home by Nottinghamshire County Council have said services in North Notts are not in place because of the current re tendering of contracts.

The number of providers used by the council is being cut from 30 to six, and those who do not have an annual turnover of between £6 to £8 million cannot bid for new contracts. As a result, Chad has been told that some providers are handing back contracts to the council as a last resort in protest.

A spokesman for one home care company, which asked not to be identified, said: “I am extremely concerned about how this re-tendering process will affect patient care. Recently we had a lady who was discharged unsafely from King’s Mill. She was sent home without enough care workers or equipment being booked by the hospital.

“Her daughter was forced to undertake her care and it was later discovered she was discharged with pneumonia and had to be re-admitted to hospital.”

Service users are also concerned about the changes, Lee Flowers raised his views when talking to Chad in December. The new contracts will come into effect in March.

David Hamilton, service director covering adult social care and health, said: “We are not aware of significant discharge delays from King’s Mill Hospital caused specifically by our home care services.

“Our new home care contracts will place a duty on the successful provider to carry out all home care activities within the area they cover which will help speed up the discharge process for patients needing this kind of service.”

Providers claim the decision to use only one provider per area across Nottinghamshire will mean less choice, continuity of care and threaten the quality of care patients receive.

Jacqui Tuffnell, director of operations for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Trust is well practised in dealing with the additional pressures that come with winter. We ensure that after discharge patients will be cared for in the most appropriate environment.”