Leicestershire care home transfer delay urged

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Media captionSouthend Care has paid just over £3m, with a commitment to spend a further £4m updating the nine care homes.

A leading provider of private care to the elderly in Leicestershire is urging a delay in the sale of nine care homes.

The county council, which said it can no longer afford to run the homes, has officially signed the contract with Southend Care.

Prime Life Ltd, which runs 16 homes in the area, said the deal as originally advertised was not "do-able".

Both the council and Southend Care insisted resident care was paramount in all aspects of the transfer.

Prime Life Ltd did not bid to take over the homes and its chairman, Peter Van Herrewege, said he had concerns over how long the arrangement could last.

He said: "It was not, it never has been, a do-able deal.

"If you suggest the original deal involved taking on these homes, continuing to pay the staff as they are remunerated today and then deliver the care back to the county council for the price they state, the numbers just did not stack up."

Mr Van Herrewege admitted he had a financial interest in the situation, and the terms of the sale may have been renegotiated, but said concerns about the deal's sustainability remained.

"If there is some doubt, let's just spend a few days checking," he said.

'Homes saved'

In a statement, Southend Care, which will run the homes as Leicestershire County Care Ltd, said: "A full vetting procedure was undertaken by the county council and both parties have worked tirelessly over the past year or so to make the transfer a success.

"Resident care has been paramount in all aspects of the transfer, the homes have been saved from possible closure and the existing managers and staff, who have provided high quality care over many years are to remain."

The county council said it expects to save more than £350,000 a year through the deal but has had to agree to a deferred payment deal where it loans Southend Care money for 18 months.

Southend Care will have to pay just over £3m, with a commitment to spend a further £4m updating the nine care homes.

Stephen Palmer, whose father is resident at one of the homes in Coalville, said he was wary of the move to the commercial sector.

He said: "Could it be profits over care? I'll have to see how my father gets on and see if they look after him to the standards he has had up to now."

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