The supposed north-south divide has been much discussed in the media, particularly in terms of business performance. However, have you ever considered that there could be a divide in the quality of care being provided in England? South Yorkshire’s favourite Sheffield stairlift supplier, UK Stairlifts, analyses available data to see whether a north-south care home divide is present in England:

A divide in care?

The Care Quality Commision (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The organisation visits care homes, amongst other locations where care is delivered, and gives them a care rating from inadequate to outstanding.

Through analysis of the CQC’s findings, we can establish how the quality of care in England is split between the north and south.

When looking at the number of residential care homes for the over 65s that have been graded as outstanding, we can see a clear north-south divide. Although the definition between what constitutes north and south is much debated, we have assumed the following split based on the boundaries of government office regions:

  • The north, made up of the North East, North West, Yorkshire & Humberside, West Midlands and East Midlands.
  • The south, comprising of the South West, South East, London and East of England.

Based on this regional split, we can see a clear north-south divide. Overall, just 77 care homes in the north have been rated outstanding, compared to 128 in the south — illustrating a huge 66% increase.

But what about the care homes that have been graded as inadequate? Which region has the greatest proportion — the north or south? The north has 75 care homes that are been graded as inadequate, compared to 64 in the south.

While the difference seems relatively small, it still highlights a disparity between north and south, which is further amplified by the north’s lower proportion of outstanding care homes.

Care quality league table

But is this sentiment shared throughout the UK? Some other studies tell a very different tale around the potential north-south care divide.

In addition to CQC’s work, also works to establish the quality of care provisions in England. They create a regional league table, which ranks English counties based on how well the care homes are rated.

From looking at the league table, we can assume a more even playing field with almost a direct split between north and south. In total, the league table of 47 regions features 23 from the north and 24 from the south. But whereabouts in the league table are they positioned?

In the top half of the league table — which shows the best performing care homes regionally — 13 were from the north, while 11 were from the south. At the opposite end of the league table, 10 care homes from the north featured compared to 13 from the south as part of the worst performing regions based on the ratings of care home services.

Given the greater proportion of care homes from northern regions in the upper half of the rankings, and a lesser proportion in the lower half, the findings suggest that care quality in the north exceeds that in the south.

However, we can’t make such sweeping generalisations, assuming the standard of care delivered in care homes based purely on its location. Rather, care levels should be determined on a case-by-case basis — which is what bodies like CQC and are doing.

Through focusing our attention on improving the standard of care nationwide, we can eliminate the supposed north-south care divide and ultimately deliver a greater quality of life for elderly people in the UK. Surely, this should be our main priority.