Northumberland has lost hundreds of care home beds, amid warnings of 'chaotic and broken' system

Northumberland has lost hundreds of care home beds over the last five years, figures reveal.

By Rosalind Erskine
Monday, 17 June, 2019, 11:27
Northumberland has lost hundreds of its care home beds over the last five years, figures reveal. Picture: PA

Charity Age UK has warned of emerging "care deserts" in parts of the country, leaving older people without access to proper care.

Analysis of Care Quality Commission data shows that Northumberland has lost 267 care home beds since 2014. There are now 3,125 in the area - a fall of 8 per cent .

Over the same period, the number of people aged 75 and older in Northumberland has increased by 12 per cent, from 31,200 in 2014, to an estimated 34,800 this year.

Managing director of Retirement mortgage company Responsible Life, Steve Wilkie said: "If this trend isn't reversed, it is going to get even tougher to access care in certain areas in the coming years.

"For some, it will mean a lack of availability, and subsequently higher costs, and will force them to delay accessing the right care at the right time. The danger is that some retirees will inevitably choose to remain in homes that do not meet their requirements."

The availability of beds in care homes varies considerably in different parts of England, according to Responsible Life's analysis.

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Middlesbrough, in the North East, has the best, with 15.6 care home beds for every 100 residents aged 75 and older, while Westminster has the worst at just 2.5.

Age UK has criticised Government handling of adult social care, and said the system is "chaotic and broken" after years of underfunding.

Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: "If the awful situation set out in this report doesn't persuade our Government to finally get a grip and take action, I don't know what will."

A spokesperson for The Department of Health and Social Care said: "People must have access to high quality care that meets their needs. Local authorities have a duty to ensure people receive appropriate care and support.

"We have given them access to up to £3.9 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410 million is available for adults and children's services."