Care report on Herts County attacked

PUBLISHED: 07:55 13 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

A REPORT praising Herts County Council (HCC) for its elderly care services – the subject of heavy criticism over the past year – has been slammed. The watchdog body the Audit Commission gave HCC an overall improving well status and rated performance at

A REPORT praising Herts County Council (HCC) for its elderly care services - the subject of heavy criticism over the past year - has been slammed.

The watchdog body the Audit Commission gave HCC an overall "improving well" status and rated performance at three out of four stars in their 2008 Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), which was made public last week.

But among the areas the commission found the council to be performing well in was care for elderly people and, in particular, assisting people to live independently.

That is despite HCC being forced to suspend their contract with their provider Supporta Care last May following a deluge of complaints about the service.

At that time the Herts Advertiser reported the plight of many elderly and vulnerable people going without vital care over the weekends because of the staffing problems Supporta Care faced after taking over the contract from three different providers in April.

Similar problems were experienced in other districts in the county including East Herts and Three Rivers where HCC also came under fire for not adequately monitoring the contract changes.

More recently, further criticisms have been made about Supporta Care lacking in staff during the holidays since its contract was reinstated.

The Audit Commission didn't inspect the county's Adult Care Services but made the assessment based on last year's findings from the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).

That report was also criticised by the LibDems - who have also attacked the latest Audit Commission findings - for failing to address the home-care chaos of the summer and the party wrote to the Secretary of State to ask for the service to be re-inspected.

A spokesperson for the LibDems said: "We have been astonished by the Audit Commission findings. Adult Care Services got a three-star rating yet services users have been let down and contractors have been sacked in the last year for failing to deliver."

An Audit Commission spokesperson stressed that elderly care was only one of many sections within Adult Care Services.

The Audit Commission report also said the condition of local roads had improved - despite the executive member for highways, transport and rural affairs, Cllr Stuart Pile, admitting to the Herts Advertiser last month that the roads were not up to standard.

The LibDem spokesperson said the fact that many of the roads surfaces fell apart in the bad weather proved that they were inadequate in the first place.

The council was given top marks for helping the environment and a "performing well" status for children's services, culture and fire and rescue.

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