Parts of the country will face a massive shortfall in care bed capacity over the next 10 years, an analysis shared with HSJ has warned.

Parts of the Midlands, East of England and areas west of London will be the worst affected, according to research on the number of beds in nursing and residential homes by consultancy firm CACI.

CACI principal consultant Paul Nash said there were around 460,000 care beds available – exceeding estimated demand by around 10 per cent. But he warned there were “significant shortfalls on a regional basis”, which would be exacerbated by ageing populations. Birmingham, Reading and west and north west London were around 800-1,000 short of the care beds they require, he said.

However, CACI warned by 2021 Birmingham could be undersupplied by 3,615 beds and Reading by 2,473 beds. Norwich, Ipswich, Peterborough and Coventry are also identified as likely to be short of around 2,000 care home beds. 

Mr Nash said: “In the next 10 years, CACI estimates the population likely to require care or stay in an elderly residential home will increase by 30 per cent to around 539,000 people, placing considerable demands on local authorities but providing opportunities for developers and operators.”

He told HSJ: “Inevitably if there are insufficient bed numbers the toll on hospitals due to bed blocking, especially for those needing step-down care, increases. Additional pressure will also come to bear on domiciliary care provision as existing resource gets spread more thinly.

“There will also be additional costs for social housing providers as aids and adaptations are installed.”

Mr Nash identified a “stalling of development opportunities”, combined with growth in the population aged over 65, as the major factors affecting the regions threatened with undersupply.

He said: “The supply of homes in these areas may have reached a level where it is now challenging for operators to obtain undeveloped land or acquire suitable sites.”

He noted Norwich had always had a comparatively high ageing population, while the shortage in the Midlands was “driven purely by population density”.

But parts of the North were oversupplied, in particular Newcastle, Preston, Doncaster and Sheffield, by around 2,000 beds.

Last week, the country’s largest care home provider, Southern Cross, admitted financial difficulties due to falling local authority funding.