GMB Seek Urgent Meeting With Northern Ireland Health Minister On Crisis In Care Sector Following Closure Of 7 Four Season Homes
Unless the Chancellor in Autumn Statement today injects the money needed I fear a slow motion collapse happening over the coming 18 to 36 months says GMB
GMB, the union for care home staff, responded to the announcement that Four Seasons Health Care is to close seven homes in Northern Ireland. See notes to editors for copy of Four Seasons Healthcare press release dated 24th November.
Alan Perry, GMB Regional Officer, said “GMB is seeking an urgent meeting with the health minister Simon Hamilton along with senior management in the wake of the company announcement that it is to close 7 care homes in Northern Ireland by February 2016. This comes on the back of a home closure here by the company only 4 weeks ago.
GMB has for some time now been pressing the Northern Ireland Executive and the 5 health trusts to be aware of the financial problems within the UK largest private care home provider.
This announcement makes it that clear the care of elderly cannot be left to companies who have to be able to make a return on capital invested and that this has to come as a higher priority to the personal needs of residents.
With the 7 homes employing close to 400 staff many in rural areas GMB are concerned that they will be unlikely to find employment within the company leading to an uncertain future for them.
Staff along with the residents and their families, who received notification in a letter delivered to their homes, are simply shocked and horrified at this decision. With continuing cuts from the Northern Ireland Executive GMB believes this may be only the start.
These problems are likely to get worse unless the Comprehensive Spending Review today provided funding for the sector. Unless the Chancellor injects the money needed I fear a slow motion collapse happening over the coming 18 to 36 months.”
Contact: Alan Perry 07974 018410 or Justin Bowden on 07710 631351 or GMB press office at 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823.
Notes to editors
Copy of Four Seasons Healthcare press release dated 24th November.
Four Seasons Health Care to close seven homes in Northern Ireland
Homes ‘not viable’
After careful consideration Four Seasons Health Care is to reluctantly close seven of its elderly care homes in Northern Ireland.
The homes are: Victoria Park Care Home and Stormont Care Home in Belfast; Antrim Care Home, Garvagh Care Home, Donaghcloney Care Home near Banbridge; Oakridge Care Home in Ballynahinch and Hamilton Court in Armagh.
A spokesman for Four Seasons Health Care described the decision to close the seven homes as a ‘difficult but unavoidable’ one, based on a combination of factors.
The spokesman said: “The principal reason behind this decision is that each of these homes is operating at a loss and they are no longer viable. The fee income that the homes receive is below the cost of the care they are providing and we have effectively been paying a subsidy for them to continue to provide care. We regret that we cannot continue to sustain this position.
“Additionally, the national shortage of nurses means it has been difficult to recruit and retain permanent staff of the right calibre. This leaves the homes reliant on temporary agency nurses in order to maintain staffing levels, that carries a high cost and presents challenges in maintaining the quality of care we expect to provide.
“The wellbeing of the residents is our priority and the homes will continue to provide care while we allow plenty of time for them and their families to be supported to find suitable alternative placements. We will do everything we can to ensure there is no disruption to their care during this time.”
Four Seasons welcomes applications for staff to transfer to the company’s other homes, subject to suitable vacancies being available.
“We would like to retain as many employees as we can and we expect that most of our nurses and a substantial number of our care staff will be able to transfer.”
In common with other leading care providers Four Seasons Health Care reviews its portfolio of care homes throughout the UK, with consideration of changing market conditions and its operational performance.
“The decision to close any home is not taken lightly, but we have to focus on homes that are capable of operating successfully to deliver high standards of care for the longer term
“We are committed to providing elderly care in Northern Ireland, where we are by far the leading provider and will have 62 care homes remaining in operation.”
For further information on this press release contact
Tel 07767 393252
Notes: The homes
Victoria Park Care Home, in Belfast, currently has 26 residents being cared for by 46 staff.
The Stormont Care Home, in Belfast, currently has 29 residents being cared for by 49 staff. .
Antrim Care Home currently has 34 residents being cared for by 49 staff.
Garvagh Care Home, currently has 52 residents being cared for by 80 staff.
Donaghcloney Care Home, in Craigavon, currently has 24 residents being cared for by 41 staff.
Oakridge Care Home, in Ballynahinch, currently has 58 residents being cared for by 74 staff.
Hamilton Court Care Home, in Armagh, currently has 31 residents being cared for by 54 staff.