Care services minister Paul Burstow today urged Southern Cross landlords to quickly set out their plans for the future of the failed company’s 752 care homes
In an attempt to reassure residents and their families, he emphasised that regulatory barriers would not be lowered by the Care Quality Commission on registering new operators.
Burstow said that, although the transfer of the care homes could take until the end of October, landlords should “set out their plans as swiftly as possible”.
Yesterday, Southern Cross’s largest landlord, NHP, set out plans for its 249 care homes to be run by a new operator it is setting up jointly with Court Cavendish, a health and social care turnaround enterprise owned by former Priory boss Dr Chai Patel.
In an update on Southern Cross ahead of the parliamentary recess, Burstow also emphasised that homes would only be transferred to operators with Care Quality Commission approval and registration.
“CQC is committed to ensuring continuity of care, but it will not lower the regulatory bar or reduce the rigour of the registration,” he said. “CQC’s principal concern is the safety of service users and it will not compromise on the standards required.”
The CQC has set up a specific team to deal with the re-registration of Southern Cross homes. In an interview with Community Care, chief executive Cynthia Bower said: “[This is] to ensure that we can do that as slickly as possible so our ‘bureaucracy’ doesn’t get in the way, and there’s nothing that we do that makes the residents feel more vulnerable than they do already.”
Burstow added that the government was looking at the need for increased financial regulation in social care in the light of the Southern Cross case, as part of its forthcoming White Paper on social care.
Bower said she would support health regulator Monitor being given powers in this area.
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