Reader Letter: Is the new care village in Bowthorpe really ‘very clever’?

From left, Francesco Elia, chief executive Saffron Housing, Norfolk County Council deputy leader Ali

From left, Francesco Elia, chief executive Saffron Housing, Norfolk County Council deputy leader Alison Thomas, health secretary of state Jeremy Hunt, and NCC leader Cliff Jordan. Picture: Courtesy of Saffron Housing - Credit: Archant

Cliff Jordan, leader of the county council suggests that the health secretary Jeremy Hunt described the Bowthorpe care village development as 'very clever'.

A very expensive facility built with massive public subsidy may or may not be clever but what is certainly not so clever is the contractual arrangements the council has entered into with NorseCare.

MORE: Cliff Jordan on Jeremy Hunt's visit to Bowthorpe care village: 'He liked the partnership work that has gone into making this building what it is. He thought it was very clever.'

Guaranteeing to purchase care at much higher prices than those paid to other providers should raise serious questions of best value. The council has a legal duty to promote a resilient care market and yet its favourable and unfair contractual arrangements with NorseCare continue to undermine that.

It is ironic that the council should now be touting NorseCare as a remedy to the lack of care beds available in the county when in part it has exacerbated the problem. NorseCare takes a disproportionate amount from the adult social care budget and inadequate fees being paid to other providers has led to a lack of investment in new facilities. At current rates perhaps a third as many more people could be provided with residential care if NorseCare wasn't paid so much.

MORE: Finishing touches being made to £19m care village on edge of Norwich

If Mr Hunt were to have the full facts I am sure he would agree that the council's arrangement with NorseCare is certainly not very clever.

Tim Armitage, Chair, Norfolk Older Persons' Care Home Association (NOPCHA), c/o Woodspring House, Fakenham.

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