Four Seasons Healthcare Take Over Of 135 Southern Cross Homes

29 Sep 2011

The transfer of 135 Southern Cross care homes to Four Seasons Healthcare, some of them from this Friday 30th September 2011, is like “jumping from the frying pan into the fire” the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool was told. 

The conference was asked to back a call from GMB that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) block this transfer until it is able to establish that Four Seasons Healthcare has the financial stability to avoid being the ‘Son of Southern Cross’. The conference was told that Four Seasons Healthcare is from the same private equity background as Southern Cross which is due to go into administration at the end of October 2011.Four Seasons Healthcare owes debts of £790 million which are due to be repaid in September 2012 and has net assets of £350 million.

Four Seasons Healthcare currently operate over 420 care centres and nursing homes accommodating 17,500 people and employing over 21,000 staff. In 2008 there was a debt for equity swap as the then owners QIA walked away. Royal Bank of Scotland took a stake just under 40% and wrote off £300m in loans. Overall, 30 lenders cut debts by over half to £780m which saved it from collapse. Four Seasons holding company is registered off-shore in the Cayman Islands and in Guernsey.

Sharon Holder, GMB National Officer told the Conference, “The Care Quality Commission must establish how Four Seasons can pay debts of £750m due to be repaid next September from assets of £350m. The only apparent option for Four Seasons to pay back the £750m is to use public money meant to care for the elderly. This is totally unacceptable. Councils must ensure taxpayers funds are not used to prop Four Seasons or any other financially unstable care home operator. We must warn families that the scene is set for Four Seasons Healthcare, and some other operators, to go the way of Southern Cross.

The Labour Movement must defend the thousands of residents in care who have worked for and served this country all their lives. If not, then history will repeat itself.  If Southern Cross was the original motion picture, Four Seasons are the sequel, and they’re coming soon to a town near you.”