Published: 17:49, 06 November 2018
| Updated: 18:13, 06 November 2018
Vital home care services for around 160 vulnerable people in Kent could be disrupted as a major provider has been deemed "at risk".
It comes as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned it has doubts about the future of Allied Homecare.
Inspectors fear the company, which helps more than 13,000 people with physical disabilities and mental illness in the UK to wash and get dressed, will not be able to continue next month.
However, the company, which has a branch in Maidstone, has claimed this is "premature and unwarranted" and its services are "sustainable and safe".
Allied Healthcare is one of the largest providers in England with 84 councils using the company to supply home care.
Kent County Council, which commissions services from the firm, is assuring residents there are rigorous systems in place so the residents will continue to receive care regardless.
Spokesman for KCC, David Gazet, said the council received a notification yesterday (November 5) about the CQC's concerns.
He added: “No new referrals are presently being made with the provider and contingency plans have been put in place ensure the continuity of care for service users.
"The council stands ready to enact these as appropriate.”
To address the concerns about its finances, the firm applied for a Company Voluntary Arrangement to restructure its debts in April.
Since then independent inspectors at CQC have been keeping an eye on the company and have claimed the firm has not been able to confirm funding after the end of November.
Chief executive of Adult Social Care at the CQC, Andrea Sutcliffe said: "I understand this is a very unsettling time for everyone who uses Allied Healthcare’s services, their families and loved ones, and staff.
"We will continue to work closely with Allied Healthcare and all of our partners – the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Local Government Association (LGA), the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and NHS England (NHSE) so they can inform the organisations responsible for commissioning people’s care – to make sure appropriate action is being taken in the interests of people’s continuity of care if this proves necessary.
"It is, of course, possible that the company is able to avoid service disruption, and if that is the case, we will revise our position accordingly."
This is the first home care provider to receive a warning like this as previously the CQC has issued notices about individual services.
A spokesman for Allied Healthcare said: "We are surprised and deeply disappointed by CQC Market Oversight’s decision, which we regard as premature and unwarranted.
"I understand this is a very unsettling time for everyone who uses Allied Healthcare’s services, their families and loved ones, and staff" - Andrea Sutcliffe
"We have demonstrated throughout our discussions with the regulator that Allied Healthcare’s operations are sustainable and safe, that we have secured a potential replacement of our credit facility, that there is no risk to continuity of care and that we have a long-term business plan in place that will continue to deliver quality care across the UK.
"The CQC has disregarded these assurances in spite of the robust evidence we have provided.
"By issuing a Stage 6 notification, the CQC is putting significant pressure on already stretched and pressurised local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.
"Continuity of quality care is our number one priority.
"We will continue to provide the services entrusted to Allied Healthcare and will work closely with all commissioners of care throughout this period.”
While the service, based in the business park in Ashford Road, Maidstone, was dubbed "good" in its last CQC inspection, the company closed its Hythe branch after a damning report.
When Allied Healthcare had a base in Red Lion Square, the inspectors raised concerns about a serious staff shortage resulting in late or missed visits and poor administration.
However, the service was praised for its quality of care and the staff's ability to response to the needs of their clients.