PENSIONERS risk being turned away from care homes because of a squeeze on public spending, it was claimed last night.

Oxfordshire County Council is not paying enough to cover the cost of putting OAPs in private homes, warned George Tuthill, chairman of Oxfordshire Care Homes Association.

The council said some OAPs could not go into their top choice of home because of costs, but all placements were “appropriate”.

Mr Tuthill said: “Fewer and fewer homes are going to accept local authority-funded placements. They are not going to take them unless somebody increases the fees.”

While national care home firm Southern Cross collapsed because it relied heavily on council places, Oxfordshire homes can fall back on private patients, he said.

The true cost is about £300 a week on top of council rates, which range from £350 to £612 depending on home type and need, he said. These are about five per cent lower than 2008.

While homes may take the council rate to fill beds, some families may have no choice but to “top up” the difference – or face a cheaper placement or one further away, he said.

Of the 4,500 care home places in the county, about 1,900 are council funded.

Some 40 people are waiting for a place and 455, 648 and 517 were placed by the county council in the last three years.

Age UK Oxfordshire chief executive Paul Cann said: “People going into homes these days are older, frailer and more dependent, and therefore more costly than they used to be.”

At Banbury’s Green Pastures Christian Nursing Home, council places have dropped from about 15 to six out of 30 over the past five years due to lack of funds, said manager John Langridge.

A surge in fundraising at the not-for-profit home paid for five £762-a-week places on an ongoing basis, he said, as the council only paid about £550.

Mr Langridge said: “It is quite upsetting to have to turn somebody away for the sake of money. But our costs have gone up with inflation, statutory holidays and regulation.”

This added to bed blocking in hospitals, he said. Latest figures show Oxfordshire is the second worst for bed blocking in England.

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said reasons for waits include places being declined by families or OAPs, and them not being fit to leave hospital.

The council agreed to review fees in June over concerns about standards following an inspector’s critical report into the Brookfield Christian Care Home, Greater Leys. It found some pensioners in pain without medication and others were not helped out of bed.

The county closed its last council-run care home in 2001.