Care company closure Concern for vulnerable

Old Vicarage Care Centre Worksop (w110713-7)
Old Vicarage Care Centre Worksop (w110713-7)

RESIDENTS must be put first - that is what Bassetlaw MP John Mann has demanded after stricken care home company Southern Cross announced its collapse.

The futures of four Bassetlaw care homes hang in the balance as the company negotiates who will look after its elderly and vulnerable residents.

In Worksop, The Old Vicarage on Newcastle Avenue and Gateford Hill Care Home are run by Southern Cross.

The company’s homes in Retford are Barnby Court at Barnby Moor and Clumber Court in Bolham Lane.

Britain’s largest care home provider admitted defeat on Monday in a long running battle for survival after it became unable to pay its landlords.

A four month restructuring period in which a 30 per cent rent cut had been agreed, was cut short after all 80 landlords pulled out.

Southern Cross runs 752 homes nationwide, caring for 31,000 residents.

Landlords of 250 homes have agreed to take them back and run them themselves but negotiations are still ongoing with the owners of the other 502 - a process that could take three to four months.

“This is a critical and worrying time for the residents of the Southern Cross care homes and moves need to be made to protect their interests,” said John Mann this week.

He stressed that no resident should be forced to move and there must be no ‘cherry picking’ of the better properties.

He added: “Government intervention is needed now so that resident needs are put first and to prevent an even greater disaster from unfolding.”

On Tuesday, care services minister Paul Burstow addressed MPs in an urgent statement.

“I know there has been some concern about what yesterday’s statement may mean and that residents and families, as well as staff, are anxious to know what will happen next,” said Mr Burstow.

He made an assurance that no-one would find themselves homeless or without care.

“We will not stand by and let that happen,” he said.

Closer to home, the deputy leader of Bassetlaw Council Coun Simon Greaves has written directly to the chief executive of Southern Cross, Jamie Buchan expressing “extreme concern” and asking for assurance that no care home would close.

He wrote: “I have no doubt that Southern Cross Healthcare has made a number of appalling financial decisions leading to its collapse.”

“However, I am sure you will agree that there is no reason whatsoever that elderly and vulnerable residents should suffer as a consequence.”

Michelle Mitchell, director at Age UK, said: “This has been a really worrying few months for Southern Cross residents and their families, with these latest developments only adding to their concern.”

“The current situation only serves to highlight the need for Monitor, the new regulator for health and social care, to be given greater powers including responsibility for ensuring the financial viability of care homes.”

Management at each of the four Bassetlaw Southern Cross care homes declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Southern Cross said the company could not comment on the prospects for individual care homes, but that further information would soon be made available.