ELDERLY residents in York could be sent to care homes in neighbouring authorities because of a shortage of care home beds, a councillor has warned.

Cllr Paul Doughty said the number of vacant care home beds across the city had fallen at one stage to just 28 and, with nine homes currently being monitored over varying compliance issues, he was concerned that number was not enough.

"I have serious worries about consequences if either the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or City of York Council decided a home was no longer safe for residents or if an insolvency situation arose," he said.

"I asked the lead officer about the contingency plans and was told that residents would be accommodated with neighbouring authorities. "

Cllr Doughty, a Conservative Strensall ward councillor who is vice chair of the authority's health overview and scrutiny committee, said elderly and vulnerable residents would find it stressful at best - and in some cases life threatening - if they were removed from support networks and caring environments to other towns. He said the move would also make it difficult for relatives to visit.

Labour cabinet member Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing said she had previously expressed her concerns about a possible shortfall in the number of care beds available, especially nursing homes places, and she supported a variety of provision in addressing the need.

Graham Terry, assistant director, adult social services, said there were currently about 40 vacant beds in the care sector in York.

He said this was sufficient to meet the everyday demand for places, and it reflected the strength and vibrancy of the care market in the city.

"We are confident that there will be sufficient beds to meet the present demand for residential care in York, particularly as a further 64 beds will become available in June, with the opening of Ebor Court, Poppleton, and 20 extra in October, with the expansion of an existing care home," he said.

“We are committed to ensuring that the care available for older people in York is of the highest standard, working closely with the Care Quality Commission and independent care providers."

He added that 87 per cent of residential care homes in the city complied fully with the Care Quality Commission’s stringent regulations, a figure which was considerably higher than the national average of 80 per cent.