Funding row sparks concern as NHS provider pulls out of running Sheffield care home

Birch Avenue care home in Chapeltown
Birch Avenue care home in Chapeltown
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Concerns have been raised following a decision by NHS bosses to pull out of running a Sheffield care home due to financial difficulties.

Sheffield MP Angela Smith fears the level of care at Birch Avenue Nursing Home in Chapeltown could decrease after Sheffield NHS Health & Social Care Trust said they could no longer afford to run the home.

Penistone & Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith

Penistone & Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith

The home, which specialises in dementia care, is rated 'Good' by the Government watchdog, the Care Quality Commission.

Ms Smith, MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge, said SHSC stated it was struggling to cover the costs of the service because of the extra staff it has had to supply due to previous concerns over the level care at the home. The Star understands the costs are having to be funded by SHSC because they are not included in the present contract with South Yorkshire Housing Association.

Ms Smith added the Trust asked the Clinical Commissioning Group, who contract out services, and SYHA to help fund the gap, however, the was CCG was 'unwilling to do so' because of 'funding constraints'.

The contract for an external firm has been was put out to tender today and The Star understands several private providers have expressed an interest in taking over.

This is the second contract the Sheffield Health & Social Care Trust has had to withdraw its services due to financial restraints in recent months.

In November 2016, the Trust said it could no longer provide services at Hurlfield View care home which specialises in respite care for residents living with dementia.

Ms Smith said: "These developments at Birch Avenue are deeply concerning for both residents and relatives. Many of the residents at the home suffer advanced Dementia and Alzheimer’s and need high levels of care.

"I have written to the CCG and demanded a meeting with senior representatives to seek assurances that they will not only ensure the service continues but that it will continue to provide adequate levels of care. I will also be raising the matter with Ministers. This is another example of a care system that is just not working.

"Ministers need to act quickly to get to grips with the issues being faced by the NHS and local authorities who provide these services for older people and they must do it before some of our most vulnerable love ones suffer the consequences of their failures.”

The Sheffield CCG told The Star there was no plans to close the home and recognised Birch Avenue was a 'greatly valued service'.

A spokesman said: "Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust has given South Yorkshire Housing Association notice that it will be ending its contract with them so they are starting the process of selecting a new organisation to provide high quality care for residents.

"There will be no change to the care provided; this will continue to be nursing care for people with enhanced dementia needs as it is now. It is also expected that the current staff will move over to work for the new provider.

"NHS Sheffield CCG has not reduced the funding available for this service and believe it remains sufficient to provide the service required. We understand that Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust decided to increase staffing levels and has been running at a loss. However, we have not had any concerns about the level of care provided the home and the Care Quality Commission inspections carried out in both 2014 and 2016 confirmed that there were sufficient staff to meet people’s needs and keep them safe.

"We appreciate that relatives will be concerned and we would like to assure them that we are committed to maintaining a high quality service at Birch Avenue and will be supporting South Yorkshire Housing Association to make the transition as seamless as possible for residents."

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Housing Association said: “We are holding a private consultation with the residents of Birch Avenue and their families later this week. Therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the situation before this has taken place.”

Kevan Taylor, Chief Executive, said: “Birch Avenue Nursing Home is run in partnership by South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) and Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSC). SYHA is the registered provider of the service and SHSC provides the staffing to run the home. The service is commissioned by NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).”

“In response to concerns in relation to various aspects of care identified in 2015, SHSC increased the staffing levels within Birch Avenue. This increase in staffing was not covered within the income SHSC receives from SYHA resulting in us spending more money than we were funded for. SHSC has been working with the CCG and SYHA to negotiate extra funding for the service but this has not been possible.

“It is with deep regret that we have, therefore, taken the decision to service notice on our contract with SYHA to provide staff to Birch Avenue. The current contract is scheduled to end as of 31 May 2017 although this will be subject to ongoing negotiation.

“SYHA will go out to tender for a new provider to deliver staffing to Birch Avenue. We, as an organisation, and myself personally, are incredibly saddened to bring to an end our excellent, long standing relationship in delivering services at Birch Avenue. We are committed, however, to working with our partners to ensure a safe transfer to the new provider.”

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