Battle to save Southampton care homes from closure to go on

LAWYERS acting for residents of two council care homes threatened with closure say they are prepared go back to court to protect their clients’ health.

It comes as Southampton Tory councillors were today due to decide whether to give the go-ahead to shut the 55- bed Whitehaven Lodge and 33- bed Birch Lawn homes.

The closures were put on hold in January after residents, many of whom thought they had a home for life, applied for a judicial review of a previous decision.

They claimed it was unlawful because it failed to consider how an eviction would affect their health.

Care bosses admitted they should have taken into account studies which showed a rise in deaths during closures elsewhere.

However, after carrying out an “audit” of residents’ needs which found “no particularly pressing risks”, they believe they can implement their closure plan and defend another legal challenge.

The council has refused to publish its audit which relatives of residents insist has not individually assessed their loved ones. The council claims the document is confidential.

Yvonne Hossacks, a solicitor who is representing residents and has fought similar care home closures across the country, warned: “I very much hope they don’t take a decision that would cause grave risks to my clients. If they do we will be straight back to court.”

Eighteen permanent residents remain at Birch Lawn care home in Sholing and 19 at Whitehaven in Millbrook.

Care bosses are advising councillors to close the homes claiming there is a falling demand for residential care in the city and the authority would save around £500,000 by buying care from the private sector.

The council now says it will not set any timetable to move residents and would take their best interests into account at all times when planning to move them.

Residents’ relatives vowed to continue to fight closure plans.

The city council’s Cabinet was due to meet at 5pm to make the decision.