Care Review Bureau - News

Care homes talk on standards to get NHS patients

April 16th, 2011 | Mail Online

The bosses of Britain’s four major private healthcare groups are to meet next month to set new standards for looking after NHS patients in an attempt to persuade the Government to use their services more.

Dr Peter Calverley, chief executive of Four Seasons Healthcare, is working with Martin Green of English Community Care to come up with a set of standards for the care home industry.

Four Seasons, Southern Cross, the Priory and Barchester Healthcare have joined forces to convince the Government to let them help the cash-strapped NHS and provide accommodation for the sick and bed-ridden.

The care home bosses believe they can help save the NHS money by offering their empty beds to patients who are on costly acute care wards but who do not need intensive levels of nursing.

But healthcare workers are increasingly concerned that patients could end up in the hands of private providers whose prime motivation is paying dividends to shareholders rather than the wellbeing of the elderly, sick and vulnerable.

In the past year several massive care home providers, including Four Seasons and Southern Cross, which together cater for 48,500 patients, have faced financial difficulties.

Both overstretched themselves during the boom, when they were under different ownership, to pay massive cash dividends.

Southern Cross, which has 750 homes, is seeking Government support-to stay afloat after being hit hard by local authority spending cuts and rising rent charges.

The company recently had a request for short-term financial help rejected by the Treasury. This has caused consternation among the 31,000 elderly residents who have been left in the dark over the future of the business.

Paul Saper, chief executive of healthcare consultancy LCS International, said: ‘I have visited more than 70 Southern Cross homes in the past six months and found terrible conditions, such as unsecure doors.’

Four Seasons also ran into trouble after accumulating debts of more than £1.5 billion, breaking banking covenants in the process.

The company tried to find a buyer before eventually refinancing with its lenders.

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