Union calls for radical action after care group collapse

Union leaders called for a “radical shake-up” of the care sector to prevent another Southern Cross crisis, following the latest Government update on the group’s closure.

Public sector union Unison said tough new regulations were needed to restore public confidence following the collapse of the care home operator, which led to concerns about the future of its 31,000 elderly residents.

Health Minister Paul Burstow said yesterday that the transfer of Southern Cross homes to other operators will be done in such a way as to have “minimal impact” on residents and staff.

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“Until a new operator is registered and takes over the services in any care home, Southern Cross will continue with full responsibility for continuity of care,” he said in a written statement.

The Minister said 330 care homes should be transferred by the end of the month, with the remaining 400 transferred at the end of October.

“Within the next few weeks we expect the complete picture to emerge for each care home, and it will be clear who is the landlord and who is the new operator.

“Notwithstanding the good progress that has been made, it is important that I restate the Government’s commitment that whatever the outcome, no one state-supported or self-funded will find themselves homeless or without care,” said the Minister.

Unison’s national officer for social services, Helga Pile, said: “It’s time for this damaging privatisation experiment to be abandoned. The care and security of the elderly is just too important to leave to the cut-and-thrust world of the private sector. The problems that led to the closure of Southern Cross still exist today.

“The Government needs to act now to put a restriction on profits, introduce tougher quality standards and ensure investment in better training and pay for staff.”