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Record number of Care Homes warned.

The figures from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) indicate that the number of official warnings issued by the Health Watchdog to care homes has risen by 43% in just one year. More than 900 notices have been issued in the last year, highlighting a catalogue of failings.

Inspectors found staff falsifying medical records and failing to investigate claims of abuse, while residents were put at risk from scalding water and left in filthy and unheated rooms. In many cases the care provided was so poor that it broke legal requirements.

Incidents include:

· At West Cliff Hall care home in Southampton, elderly people were reportedly left to shout for help because bells did not work. One pensioner needed an ambulance after falling to the floor after being left without help to get to the toilet. Another was left shouting for help for 40 minutes according to the notice, issued in February.

· Inspectors visiting The Limes 1 care home in Ely, Cambridgeshire, found that 7 separate allegations of physical abuse were never reported to the local safeguarding team.

· In Rotherham, inspectors at Sunnyside Respite Centre found staff had signed records to say medicine had been administered when it had not.

· In Darlington, the owners of Willow Green Care Home were forced to pay out £4,000.00 in December for unsafe management of medicines for elderly residents. Two unannounced inspections found residents were missing medication and being given drugs at the wrong time.

· In Bradford, residents of Oakhurst Nursing Home were reportedly left in “extremely dirty” surroundings.

Patient groups have expressed concerns that the failings identified could be the “tip of the iceberg”. The CQC’s own management has admitted that the current inspection system is “totally flawed”. The Chief Executive of the Patient’s Association, Katherine Murphy, said “The figures are worrying enough, but because of what we know about the failings of CQC, we have every reason to fear that these are the tip of the iceberg. Every day our helplines get calls about the absolutely appalling failings in care”.

Commenting on the figures, Richard Wood from the CNCI team said “The number of warnings issued in the last year is shocking. What is particularly distressing is the fact that each one of these warnings highlights a series of failings that are impacting upon the health, wellbeing and dignity of many elderly people. We know from our clients that the incidents outlined above are not isolated. There are many other problems in the care sector that we not discovered, investigated or addressed”.