Soaring insurance premiums as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic could put care homes across the country out of business, unless the Government takes steps to protect them, it has been claimed.
Care home owners, increasingly worried about being sued over coronavirus deaths, told the BBC this week that they feared they would have to close if they were not offered similar indemnity to the NHS.
The Government said it was doing everything it could to support the social care sector.
But Care England, a charity that represents providers across the country, said that if care homes could not get insurance they would not be able to take patients with coronavirus from hospitals.
Mike Padgham, Managing Director of St Cecilia’s care group in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, has written an open letter to the Health Secretary calling for Government help.
Padgham told the BBC that his insurer had told him that renewing his existing policy would cost him 880% more than last year.
He previously paid £10,000 but his quote for renewal was initially £98,000.
Padgham received an alternative offer of £41,000 and finally settled for a policy costing £18,000.
He told the BBC: “I do have some sympathy with the insurance companies because they’re worried about the risk, which is why I want the government to step in and help the industry.”
There have been outbreaks of COVID-19 in about 44% of all registered care homes, according to Public Health England figures.
The National Care Association, which represents small and medium-sized care providers, said 93.5% to a survey it has carried out say they have had no COVID-19 cover included in their renewal.
Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “This is an absolutely enormous threat to the care sector and I think we should acknowledge that some of the increases in costs are absolutely astronomical.”
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are doing everything we can to support the social care sector during this unprecedented pandemic.
“We are working closely across government, with care providers and insurance representatives, to understand these issues and any action that may need to be taken.”