Unacceptable

PUBLISHED: 11:37 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010

SIR, — Herts County Council is extremely concerned that services were not delivered effectively to vulnerable residents due to the problems with our home care provider for St Albans. As a carer myself, I know how important it is for the right care to be

SIR, - Herts County Council is extremely concerned that services were not delivered effectively to vulnerable residents due to the problems with our home care provider for St Albans.

As a carer myself, I know how important it is for the right care to be delivered at the right times, which is why my colleagues and I in the county council's Adult Care Services department are committed to resolving these issues as quickly as possible.

It is completely unacceptable that vulnerable people have been affected in this way, but we have identified the reasons for the disruption and are working closely with the provider to ensure that everyone gets the appropriate care in the future.

I am pleased to say that the complaints do not constitute a criticism of the carers themselves, who are doing a fantastic job in difficult circumstances.

Commercial confidentiality prohibits us as a council from giving a fuller explanation of why things have gone wrong, but I can say for certain that the problems were not ones which could have reasonably been predicted.

The tendering process for our home care contracts was very thorough, included involvement from both service users and their carers and was weighted more heavily on quality than price - although getting value for Herts taxpayers' money was of course a factor.

We chose companies with excellent reputations and track records in delivering high-quality care.

Arranging care for people coming out of hospital is often not as straightforward as it may seem and complications can arise which inevitably lead to delays.

It is wrong to assume that all delays in recent weeks have been as a result of failures on the part of our care provider.

Frustrating as it can be for a service user and their family, waiting for the right care package to be put in place to meet very complex needs can sometimes be unavoidable.

The county council incurs "bed-blocking" fines only when someone has their stay prolonged in an acute hospital. This does not apply to community hospitals such as the one at St Albans. I can therefore assure your readers that, in the case of Mrs Surridge, no fines were incurred as a result of her stay at that hospital.

To those who have been affected by the recent disruption to our service, I offer my sincerest apologies and assurances that we are doing everything in our power to prevent this happening again.

CLLR SALLY NEWTON,

Executive Member for Adult Care and Health, Herts County Council.

n Editor's note: The information in our story that the county had been fined £120 a day for bed blocking in the case of Mrs Pamela Surridge was confirmed by Herts County Council.

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