Council chiefs were quizzed on Monday night over why a care provider that has been told to improve by watchdogs was awarded a new contract.

Bromley Council agreed at an Executive last month to give Mission Care a contract for nursing care beds.

The care service currently has two out of five homes on a “requires improvement” rating, given to them by the Care Quality Commission, a team of inspectors who report on healthcare facilities.

Leader of the opposition Angela Wilkins raised the point to the care services portfolio holder and asked why there was a delay in awarding the contract in the first place.

Cllr Diane Smith replied: “Subsequent to the care services meeting in November, I was alerted to the fact that the care home provider in the process of being considered for the nurse’s bed contract had received “requires improvement” notices from the CQC.

“As a result, I advised my colleagues that we should not proceed with the award of the contract, until such time that the council’s monitoring team could confirm the required remedial action had been taken and the provider was once again operating to the required high standard.

“Postponing the decision allowed members to be reassured the issues and concerns had been addressed before awarding the contract.”

Two of five of Bromley Care’s homes, Elmwood and Greenhill, have been told to improve by the watchdog.

The other three homes have Good ratings.

Cllr Smith added: “As part of the process, officers visited the homes, spoke with residents and relatives and the CQC and met with the provider to review the delivery of their action plan. It was wise to delay this as safeguarding vulnerable residents is paramount.”

Elmwood was inspected in January, and Greenhill in August last year, when it was told safety, effectiveness, leadership and caring aspects of it’s service needed to improve.

Elmwood was told it required improvement for its safety, caring and leadership.

According to the report: “The service was not always safe. Risks had not always been adequately assessed, and action had not always been taken to manage identified risks safely.”

According to Cllr Smith, the issues had been addressed and it was likely that another inspection would provide a better rating, so the contract was awarded.

Cllr Wilkins welcomed the actions taken, but still questioned why the contract was given considering the second home was only inspected in January.

Cllr Smith said: “It’s important to consider the way care homes are rated as there is a significant interval between inspections and reports being published – during which time work is undertaken to identify and make improvements.

“The home Cllr Wilkin’s is referring to was inspected in December, and in-between times there was a strong response from the providers management to make improvements required, with a number of service improvements identified and implemented.

“Our contracts monitoring team carried out additional quality assurance visits to ensure the relevant improvements were on track. I believe it’s sign a responsible authority to pause awarding he contract when concerns are raised.”