Another blot on councils’ copybook
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
A High Court judgment handed down in Newcastle last week will place further tension on the already taut contractual relationships between care providers and local authorities.
In a contractual dispute between charitable provider Abbeyfield and Newcastle City Council, the court ordered the Council to compensate Abbeyfield for failing to provide ‘reasonable’ care home fees. http://www.careinfo.org/?p=17256
In making his judgment, Mr Justice Norris rejected the council’s view that the fees it had paid to Abbeyfield were the same as the “market price”, which was determined by the fact that 51 other providers (as from October 2011) had accepted the council’s rate.
“There is no true ‘market’,” the judge said.
“There is a dominant purchaser which, by virtue of its purchasing power and its ability to make unlawful threats (to ‘blacklist’ dissentient providers) which individual providers cannot counter, is able to secure for itself particular prices which are lower than ‘the market’ (comprising all purchasers of care homes services) is willing to pay.”
This bolsters a view I have long espoused – that the social care funding apparatus is unwieldy, expensive and open to cynical manipulation by local authorities. There is a better way, one in which local authorities would play no part – change the name of ‘Clinical Commissioning Groups’ to ‘Care Commissioning Groups’ and put social workers in every GP practice to carry out assessments.
I accept that it may never happen, but I don’t accept that it wouldn’t work.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.