Opposition councillors have called for an inquiry after their Freedom of Information request revealed serious failings at a care home administered by Buckinghamshire County Council.
The council announced back in December 2016 that it was taking back the Seeley’s House contract from Bucks Care, a company that they paid £8m to handle respite care for adults with physical and learning disabilities.
Labour councillors Robin Stuchbury and Linda Derrick, claim they were repeatedly told there was “nothing sinister” about the decision, other than the council had “lost confidence in Bucks Care’s ability to manage the contract”.
But after the councillors raised a Freedom of Information request, which was initially refused by the council, the extent of the failings were revealed in a report.
An excerpt from the report, titled Seeley’s House Large Scale Enquiry, read: “In November 2016, the Care Quality Commission re-inspected the service and found both continued and additional breaches to the Health and Social Care Act 2008 including environmental hazards and incidents of physical abuse that had not been reported to the local authority, people were not receiving medicines as prescribed and the service failed to act within the core principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.”
In 2017, the multi-agency Large Scale Enquiry concluded having substantiated the allegation of “organisational abuse”.
Councillor Derrick said: “The Labour Party has been asking questions about Bucks Care for more than six months, including by Robin Stuchbury who was then a county councillor.”
She accused BCC of prevaricating on the issue in an attempt, in her view, to cover up what had been going on.
Councillor Derrick said investigations were continuing into incidents at Seeley’s House when it was run by Bucks Care. “This only came to light through whistleblowers going to the Care Quality Commission and through the Labour Party asking for papers under the Freedom of Information Act,” she said.
At the time Mr Stuchbury says he was told by the county council that the NHS was continuing to fund people who needed residential respite at Seeley’s House.
However Linda Derick claims that the NHS had refused to fund them because it decided Seeley’s House was not competent to provide the care.
She said: “It is now clear that Seeley’s House has only been operating at two thirds capacity for the last six months.
“Vulnerable adults are not getting the respite they are legally entitled to and their carers are getting no rest. On top of this, BCC has had to cover nearly £3 million of debt run up by Bucks Care, so far,” he added.
A spokesman for Buckinghamshire County Council said: “The council took decisive action after last November’s CQC inspection, taking the operation of Seeley’s and Bucks Care back in-house.
“Since then, we’ve been working hard to deliver our improvement plan and, this week, have published the Large Scale Enquiry Report on our website.
“We are expecting that the CQC will publish its updated rating for the service very soon.”
Bucks Care was approached for comment but did not respond to request before The Bucks Herald went to press.