In less than 30 minutes, the Tory Cabinet unanimously agreed to close Bohanam House in Gloucester, Orchard House in Bishops Cleeve, The Elms in Stonehouse and Westbury Court in Westbury-on-Severn, forcing over 80 residents from their retirement homes.
Among those who voted to close these homes was the newest member of the public health cabinet, who personally delivered a petition from more than 540 people opposing the closure of The Elms in his own division of Stonehouse.
The cabinet said it endorsed the recommendation after considering feedback from the recent six-week consultation with residents, loved ones and staff as well as the results of engagement with the local care market.
But opposing Liberal Democrats said the consultation revealed great concern that residents would significantly deteriorate if forcibly moved and that close friendships would be broken as homes closed. These comments were included in today’s Cabinet report, but made no changes to the approved recommendations.
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrat Group for Public Protection and Adult Welfare, said: “We are extremely concerned by the Cabinet’s decision to close the four houses, including Bohanam House in my own division of Gloucester. It has become clear on questioning that the Cabinet’s decision was motivated by a desire to protect the private market, at a cost to our public homes, despite the consistently high occupancy rates in all four care homes before the pandemic and good ratings from the Care Quality Commission.
“More than 2,000 residents, family members and staff have petitioned against these care home closures, but that, and all of the consultation feedback, counted for nothing at the meeting. ‘today.
“It is a continuation of the history of this administration to withdraw from public sector supply, which will eventually make us completely dependent on private houses. We should use our public sector houses to raise the standards on the care market, not just rolling around and allowing private companies to drive us out of town.”
Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Councilsaid: “Making the decision to close someone’s home is never easy but, after considering all the information before us, it was the right decision to make. Naturally, market conditions and issues more broad are less important to the residents and families of these homes, but they are issues we need to address in fulfilling our duty to support a stable and efficient local care market.
“I know the residents of these homes will be worried about the future, but our dedicated social care staff will use all their skills and knowledge to minimize disruption to the residents of these homes. Thank you to everyone who participated in the market consultation and engagement .
“It’s important to remember that part of today’s decision was to invest in purpose-built new facilities in areas of the county that need it most, helping to ensure that the delivery of care in Gloucestershire meets the needs of residents for years to come. Work will begin soon to ensure these plans move forward.”
Any decision to call the closure of nursing homes should be made within five working days of yesterday, June 23.