Care home company’s cash crisis

THE GOVERNMENT is in talks to help save a healthcare company which runs two care homes in the Express area from falling into financial ruin.

Southern Cross Healthcare, which runs Warde Aldam Christian Nursing Home, Westfield Lane, South Elmsall, and Hemsworth Park, Wakefield Road, Kinsley, was feared to be close to collapse after it confirmed its current rent bill was “unsustainable.”

The company’s financial difficulties, mainly caused by the high rents it pays for the buildings it uses as care homes, has been raised with David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Question Time.

On Monday Southern Cross said it has stopped paying rent quarterly and will only pay monthly to standardise payment schedules across the company.

And it is in talks with officials from the Department of Health and Department of Business Innovation and Skills about maintaining proper standards of care for 31,000 elderly residents in 750 care homes across the country.

Workers’ union GMB, which represents care home staff, is highly concerned that elderly residents face the prospect of being made homeless as the company struggles to pay high rents.

Jon Smith, GMB Organiser said the union was also seeking talks with the government about the issue.

He said: “We want to ask what exactly the contingency plans are if Southern Cross and the Government fail to cut the rents and Southern Cross has to go into administration.

“The care homes run by Southern Cross are not factories that are failing from lack of demand but are an essential part of every community which now face ruin due to the combination of privatisation and private equity.

“Staff turnover in the care homes is very high because of the low pay to the workers the majority of which have had their pay frozen.

“This lack of continuity of care staff has an adverse effect on the care the elderly receive. They now face the prospect of losing their homes.”

Phil Whitaker, regional director north at Southern Cross Healthcare, said: “I would like to reassure people that residents in our care homes do not face the prospect of being made homeless.

“Like all independent care providers, we continue to face challenges because fewer people are being placed in our homes by local authorities, many of whom are seeking to reduce the fee levels they pay in line with public spending cuts.

“We are taking decisive action to ensure our business remains sustainable. We are also urging government, landlords and commissioners to work co-operatively in supporting us.”