Deadline looms for East Midlands homes?

A DEADLINE has been set for bids for 32 care homes in the East Midlands crippled by £780 million debts, according to reports.

A report in the Wall Street Journal suggests bids to acquire Four Seasons Healthcare are required by April 25. The massive debts have to be repaid by September, which has raised concern by GMB – who represent staff at the homes.

The firm has homes in Chesterfield, Buxton, Ilkeston and Belper, as well as Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

The GMB says the company has consistently said that it is not for sale which is contrary to the recent report.

Potential buyers of the company include Guy Hands’ Terra Firma and a consortium of US healthcare specialist Formation Capital and London-based private equity firm Patron Capital, the report said.

It is unclear whether CVC Capital Partners remains in the process.

The report goes onto says that the company remains in talks with existing shareholders led by Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) about a refinancing deal, which could involve RBS and other creditors-turned-holders putting in more equity and a new investor taking a minority interest.

GMB, recently wrote to all councillors in the East Midlands region to alert them to the current financial position in Four Seasons.

They told councillors that the union warned when Four Seasons took over 140 Southern Cross care homes last autumn that the staff and residents were being asked to “jump from the frying pan into the fire”.

Recently the Care Quality Commission said as follows: “The large health and care organisations are not overseen financially by anyone.

“The Care Quality Commission (CQC) require that a provider is financially stable, but it is outside of our remit to carry out financial audits or financially background checking of any service provider.

“If we have concerns that the financial position of any provider is putting the care of service users at risk, whether they are large companies like Four Seasons or Bupa, or whether they are a small service owned by one person with only one location, we can then request that company gives us information about the state of their finances and future plans and concerns.”