Redbridge has lost 20% of its care home beds in five years

Redbridge has lost one fifth of its care homes in five years. Picture: Peter Byrne

Redbridge has lost one fifth of its care homes in five years. Picture: Peter Byrne - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Redbridge has lost hundreds of its care home beds over the past five years.

Analysis of Care Quality Commission data shows there are now 1,001 in the borough - a fall of 20per cent. That is one of the sharpest declines in England.

Over the same period, the number of people aged 75 and older in Redbridge has increased by 4pc, from 17,100 in 2014, to an estimated 17,700 this year.

This means there are 5.7 care home beds for every 100 older people - the national average is 8.5.

Charity Age UK has warned of emerging "care deserts" in parts of the country, leaving older people without access to proper care.

It criticized the government's handling of adult social care and said the system is "chaotic and broken" after years of underfunding.

"If the awful situation doesn't persuade our government to finally get a grip and take action, I don't know what will," said director Caroline Abrahams.

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Across England, the number of beds has increased by 1.4pc, rising to 407,058.

However 75 local authority areas have lost almost 10,000 beds between them, prompting concerns about regional inequalities across the adult social care sector.

A Redbridge Council spokeswoman said government cuts are having a "major impact" on the social care sector and the supply of care home beds is no exception.

"In Redbridge, despite low levels of funding, we are achieving high levels of user satisfaction and are recognised as the most productive council for social care," she said.

"We have done our bit but it's time the government stepped up, plugged the funding gap and delivered a social care Green Paper - already delayed five times that sets out a long-term settlement for our elderly and vulnerable residents.

"It is the most vulnerable in society that are impacted by these funding cuts and lack of action by government."

Retirement mortgage company Responsible Life, which produced the research, said the results reveal "a postcode lottery unfolding".

Managing director Steve Wilkie said: "If this trend isn't reversed, it is going to get even tougher to access care in certain areas in the coming years.

"For some, it will mean a lack of availability, and subsequently higher costs, and will force them to delay accessing the right care at the right time.

"Others may feel they are better off financially paying for assistance at home.

"The danger is that some retirees will inevitably choose to remain in homes that do not meet their requirements."

The Department of Health and Social Care said it would set out plans to reform the social care system "at the earliest opportunity".

A spokesman said: "People must have access to high quality care that meets their needs. Local authorities have a duty to ensure people receive appropriate care and support.

"We have given them access to up to £3.9billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410million is available for adult and children's services."