BUPA has been handed a ban on new admissions at three Scottish care homes over concerns about the level of care given to residents.
The private firm can no longer admit patients to the Pentland Hill, Victoria Manor and Braid Hills facilities, all in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh City Council said it imposed the ban on the first two following a series of complaints from the Care Inspectorate, with an agreement made with Bupa to halt admissions at the third.
Private healthcare specialist Bupa insisted it had voluntarily agreed to admission bans on the homes. It has insisted that standards have improved at all three in recent months.
Pentland Hill, in Corstorphine, is itself the subject of a police investigation following the deaths of four residents.
The premises, which had 87 residents as of October, currently holds “unsatisfactory” and “weak” grades from inspections in July and October.
Eleven inspectors were deployed and last month revealed their report made for “sober reading”. Among the concerns were residents being at risk of under-nutrition and others being given food they could not, or should not, eat.
Ten complaints have also been fully upheld by the Care Inspectorate since February.
The council, which oversees care homes in the area, said the premises would have to improve before new patients could be admitted.
Ricky Henderson, the city’s health and social care convener, told The Scotsman: “We have advised Bupa we have suspended new admissions to Pentland Hill, and Victoria Manor care homes due to concerns raised by the Care Inspectorate and grades given following inspections.
“With Braid Hills, the decision was made based on an agreement between ourselves and Bupa. However, we are working closely with both Bupa and the Care Inspectorate to address standards of care.”
The inspectorate said last month that there was “evidence of some change to how the home is run and managed, including better external support and a new manager, but we are still not satisfied by the overall quality of care being delivered”.
It added: “The quality of care, staffing and leadership remains unsatisfactory. We require further, specific improvements.”
A Bupa spokeswoman insisted it had ceased new admissions either voluntarily or in agreement with the council and Care Inspectorate, and that there have been no new admissions at Pentland Hill since the summer.
Victoria Manor, in the Leith Walk area, and Braid Hills in Liberton, have also both improved in recent months, Bupa insisted.
The spokeswoman said: “We agreed to halt new admissions to Victoria Manor after receiving a grade 2 in just one of the Care Inspectorate’s four quality grades. All other categories remain at good or adequate. The home was inspected recently and we expect a positive outcome.
“We agreed with the local authority not to take new admissions at Braid Hills even though the home has always met standards and continues to be rated as good or adequate across all categories by the Care Inspectorate.
“The vast majority of our care homes in Scotland meet or exceed standards across the areas the Care Inspectorate regularly investigates. We are committed to exceeding regulatory standards in all our homes.”
Andrew Cannon, managing director of Bupa Care Services, said last month that Pentland Hill had improved since the inspection in October, and that “residents and their families tell us they are also seeing a difference from all the changes”.