Sunday, March 20, 2011

Care homes beg for taxpayer support

This is the subject of an article in today’s Sunday Times. Sorry, I cannot give you a link because it is behind a paywall.

Just before the last general election I met with a Conservative shadow cabinet minister - now a minister – to talk about “all things old” and I told him that if they were elected they would have a major problem with the unstable financial state of the care industry. For my sins it is a subject I know something about.

I suggested that they might want to start thinking about how they would respond when local authorities cut their funding to an industry that is already financially stuffed.

Needless to say, nothing happened until the situation got to a crisis, as it has been doing over the past few months.

Southern Cross, the UK’s largest provider with 31,000 residents has been struggling to survive ever since the disastrous financial engineering that made a lot of people wealthy but made the company a financial fruitcake.

This is what the Sunday Times had to say.

The crisis-stricken care home industry has asked the government to come to its rescue by filling half-empty homes with NHS patients.

The desperate move comes as the four largest operators — Southern Cross, Four Seasons, the Priory and Barchester - outlined their plan at a meeting last month with David Cameron’s special health adviser. There will be a second meeting this month that will be joined by Bupa.

The thing that makes it even more ironic is that much of the debt of these care companies is owned by banks that are effectively owned by the state.

Many economic pundits have been suggesting that older people have got off lightly from the spending cuts. Maybe the sights a thousand or so care home being boarded up will make them feel a bit better. Dick Stroud

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