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Nadra Ahmed: Independent sector can't afford more red tape

Imagine you are running a small independent care home: a place where your staff have worked for years and built up close relationships with the residents and their families. A place where everyone can take part in daily activities and outings, and are not left staring at a television. A place that residents and their families would recommend to others.

In short, a care home which should easily get an excellence rating under the Government's proposed new system. But such a home may not, for one very simple reason: it may not be able to afford to take part.

The National Care Association represents more than 2,000 small independent care providers across the country, many of which don't have the money to pay to submit to these new "excellence tests", despite the fact that they are providing excellent levels of care.

Providers already pay for inspections from the Care Quality Commission through the registration process that provides the licence to practise. Additionally, local authorities can instigate compliance of contract visits which generate an additional layer of paperwork.

The introduction of this scheme will be not only another financial, but also an administrative burden at a time when commissioners are asking us to accept efficiency cuts of between 5 and 10 per cent a year.

The idea that care homes don't want to provide good care to their residents is ludicrous – what we need to be is realistic. We are not immune from the increases in fuel, food and heating. Yet we are being asked to cut the amount we charge to provide 24-hour care to vulnerable members of society while providing exceptional care.

To then ask us to pay what are likely to be significant charges to take part in excellence tests appears unfair. So when these tests do come in, the public must remember what they really tell us – and what they don't.

The writer is chair of the National Care Association