Southern Cross proposes 3,000 job cuts

Southern Cross sign
Image caption Southern Cross said the quality of care provided to its 31,000 residents would not be jeopardised

Southern Cross, the troubled care home provider, has announced proposals to cut 3,000 jobs out of its workforce of 44,000 staff.

The company said home managers, deputy managers, relief managers, activity co-ordinators and administrators would not be directly affected.

Southern Cross said it expected the cuts to be completed by October, after a period of consultation with unions.

Unions called for the government to step in with financial support.

Southern Cross has already deferred 30% of its rent to landlords of its 750 homes as it tries to avoid bankruptcy.

The Darlington-based company's current rent payments total about £180m a year.

Last month, it reported half-year losses of £311m and warned that it was in a "critical financial condition".

'Kick in the teeth'

"In today's announcement we are engaging with colleagues to put in place the best possible staffing model for our future needs, and one which fully embraces the best practice available to us," said Southern Cross chief executive Jamie Buchan.

The company said the job reductions were part of an ongoing programme of change, instigated by its senior management team 18 months ago.

It said the cuts would not jeopardise the quality of care provided to its 31,000 residents, but this was disputed by unions.

"The care sector is hugely labour intensive, and there is no doubt that job losses on this scale will mean elderly people in Southern Cross homes get a lower standard of care and some homes may be at risk of closure," said Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "This is the start of a disaster for the residents as well as a kick in the teeth for the staff.

"The is the trigger for the government to step in with immediate financial support to ensure that Southern Cross continues to operate and continues to provide a home for 31,000 elderly and vulnerable residents."

Judy Downey, chair of the Relatives & Residents Association (R&RA), a national charity for the welfare of older people in care, also called for government action.

"We cannot just sit back and allow frail, vulnerable people to suffer, we want to see the government taking emergency action to safeguard these residents who are all at risk - even if that means taking over the assets of these homes and running them as a going concern," she said.

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