The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has come out against the use of online reverse auctions to determine contracts for care services.
In a letter to The Times newspaper, Adass president Jenny Owen said the use of such auctions – in which contracts are awarded to the lowest bidders – “might seriously undermine the quality of care provided”.
She added: “Buying care is not the same as buying stationery, and Adass flatly rejects the use of these auctions in this way.”
The use of online auctions came under the spotlight in a recent BBC Panorama programme on home care, which found that South Lanarkshire Council in Scotland had awarded a contract for domiciliary care for £9.95 an hour – below the average price across the UK.
The council launched an investigation on the back of the programme.
In her letter, Owen said giving service users and carers greater control over their care would help prevent services being purchased on cost grounds alone.
She also pointed to the opportunities presented by the government’s forthcoming green paper on the funding of adult care in England. Owen said Adass hoped this would “create a system in which our twin duties of providing high quality care at the most reasonable cost to the taxpayer can be delivered more fairly than at present”.