Havering Council reassures residents after national home care provider declares financial difficulties
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Havering Council has set up a hotline to reassure worried residents after financial problems at one of the UK’s largest home care providers raised concerns that services might be disrupted.
In April this year, Allied Healthcare applied for a Company Voluntary Arrangement that would allow it to restructure its debts, and this was approved in May.
The company’s Havering branch is registered to a premises in Victoria Road, Romford, and offers everything from live-in carer services and 24-hour care to risk assessments for homes and treatments for alcohol dependency.
Allied Healthcare supports around 100 people in Havering.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is also in charge of market oversight as the UK’s healthcare regulator, had been informed by Allied Healthcare’s UK head office that funding to provide services until November 30 had been secured.
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On November 5, with no concrete details provided on the company’s future funding, the CQC was legally required to write to the 84 local authorities in England that use Allied Healthcare’s services and warn them that there was “a credible risk of service disruption”.
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “I understand this is a very unsettling time for everyone who uses Allied Healthcare’s services, their families and loved ones, and staff.
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“We will continue to work closely with Allied Healthcare and all of our partners – the Department of Health and Social Care, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (and NHS England so they can inform the organisations responsible for commissioning people’s care – to make sure appropriate action is being taken in the interests of people’s continuity of care if this proves necessary.
“It is of course possible that the company is able to avoid service disruption, and if that is the case, we will revise our position accordingly.”
In the wake of the CQC’s announcement, Allied Healthcare has seen a number of customers transfer their business to other care providers, further disrupting the company’s operations.
An Allied Health spokesman said: “These developments have intensified the impact of the challenging environment within which we operate and come immediately prior to the Christmas period, when pressures on care providers are at their highest.
“This has also meant that we have had to re-evaluate our long-term business plan.
“We are therefore actively exploring a range of options in order to minimise disruption to continuity of care, including the sale or transition of care and support services on a regional or contract-by-contract basis to alternative providers best placed to deliver care at a local level.
“Such sales or transitions will involve the transfer of staff. This process will be conducted in close cooperation with our customers.
“We continue to trade safely while this process is underway.
“RBS as our existing lender has agreed to extend our current credit line by up to three weeks beyond 30 November, enabling us to deliver safe continuity of care whilst we explore and implement these options.
“We will work closely with the CQC and all commissioners of care to ensure that there is minimal disruption to the care that we provide across the UK whilst this transition takes place. Continuity of care is our number one priority.”
Havering Council’s Adult Social Services team has been aware of and has been working on the issue for the last two weeks.
A Havering Council spokesman said: “Havering Adult Social Care has been working closely with Allied Healthcare since the news first came to our attention two weeks ago, and will continue to do so.
“We are committed to ensuring that all residents have continuity of care, with the least disruption possible to the residents and their families.
“From Monday, we will be contacting all residents and families affected, to start working with them over arrangements for the next few weeks.
“For anyone who is worried, we will have a dedicated line for residents and their families to contact us. Please call 01708 434656.”
Councillor Jason Frost, cabinet member for adult care services, added: “Ensuring that residents who need home care continue to receive it is crucial and we have put plans in place so that residents receive the help and information they need as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
“We are especially keen to hear from anyone paying Allied Healthcare directly for their services or using a direct payment from the council to pay for their services.
“We are also keen to hear from parents and carers of anyone under the age of 18 who are receiving services from Allied Healthcare, whether from the Havering branch or not.”