One in seven Southern Cross homes without manager

Southern Cross sign Ms Baillie said the document showed 14 of the firm's 97 homes in Scotland are without managers

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A call has been made for robust measures to be put in place to protect residents in care homes in Scotland run by Southern Cross.

The Scottish Labour party says that a leaked report shows one in seven of the firm's homes has no manager.

The party's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie wants a contingency plan drawn up to ensure standards of care are maintained.

The Scottish government accused Labour of creating "scare stories".

Darlington-based Southern Cross was the UK's largest care home operator with 31,000 residents.

It ran into difficulties when it said it was unable to pay its rent bills to its landlords.

Southern Cross has a portfolio of 97 care homes in Scotland.

Scottish Labour said a leaked "contingency update" from the care home operator showed that as of 14 July, 14 of its 97 homes had no manager in post and 13 had a manager in place for three months or less.

The document also showed that 41 homes had an occupancy rate of less than 88% and there were concerns about the profitability of a third of the properties, raising questions over their future viability.

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Progress is being made by all parties in their work to resolve the situation”

End Quote Spokesman Scottish government

Ms Baillie said: "Not only are care home managers crucial in driving up standards of care, at this turbulent time, they have a key role to play in ensuring a smooth transition over to new care providers.

"So to see so many care homes without managers is deeply worrying.

"It is crystal clear from this report that some care homes are more profitable than others and private care providers will inevitability cherry-pick the most lucrative services.

She added: "It is essential that a Scotland-wide contingency plan is put in place to ensure that no older person is let down.

"It's simply not good enough for the SNP government to take a back seat and leave Scotland's 32 different local authorities to pick up the pieces."

When Southern Cross initially ran into financial problems the First Minister Alex Salmond pledged to protect the thousands of elderly Scots looked after by the care home provider.

Responding to Jackie Baillie's comments a Scottish government spokesman said: "It is irresponsible to create scare stories which raise the fears of residents and their families.

"Progress is being made by all parties in their work to resolve the situation facing Southern Cross in a way which ensures stability and continuity of service."

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