PATIENTS with dementia and other disabilities could be forced to leave their care home to cut costs.

A task group set up by Southend Council to review the future of Priory House, in Prittlewell Chase, Westcliff, has recommended it should be shut down because there is no longer enough cash in the public purse to maintain it.

The home, one of the last two operated by the council, has up to 28 beds for elderly people with dementia or other frailties.

Chiefs have insisted any closure will be managed carefully and residents will not suffer, but worried relatives are unconvinced.

One man, whose elderly mother lives at the home, said: “I think it would be a disgraceful decision if they were to close it.

“You cannot move people at that age and with the sorts of issues they have without causing them serious problems.

“It simply isn’t acceptable.”

Relatives and council bosses have repeatedly praised the standard of service offered at Priory House.

However, chiefs pointed out each of the 28 beds cost £774 a week to run - twice the rate paid to private homes to accommodate publically-funded patients.

In addition, the Fifties-built home requires nearly £1million of investment to bring it up to 21st century standards - money the council does not have.

Chiefs ordered a review into the future of Priory House and Delaware House, in Maplin Way North, Shoebury, last year to try to find a way forward.

That review, conducted by nine councillors from all parties, has now recommended Priory House is closed while Delaware House is maintained and upgraded.

A formal consultation on that option, as well as keeping both homes open, selling them to a private operator or changing the way they work, is expected to be rubber-stamped by Tory leaders on Tuesday.

No final decision will be made until all residents and staff have been asked for their views.

However, if Priory House were to close, it could mean job losses for some of the 85 staff employed across both homes and patients being moved elsewhere.

Chiefs previously promised existing residents would be allowed to live out the rest of their days in the home, but now it appears more likely they would be found new beds in the private sector.

Mike Boyle, the interim head of adult commissioning, said the details of any moves would only be laid out if the decision was taken to close a home.

He added: “Any future decision resulting in the closure of a care home will have to be managed within the requirements of the Human Rights Act and carried out safely and in accordance with current best practice.”