Fears over Southern Cross care homes

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ELDERLY residents across Fenland are among those facing uncertainty this week with the announcement that care home provider Southern Cross is in financial trouble.

Southern Cross owns Broad Oaks in March; Friday House on March Road in Friday Bridge; Dove Court, Kirkgate Street in Walsoken and Strathmore House, Friday Bridge Road, Elm.

The care home company announced on Wednesday (June 1) it would be paying a third less of rents to its landlords over the next four months raising fees that some homes could be forced to close if the landlords refuse to accept this reduction.

However, shortly afterwards the government announced it will use public money to ensure those in the 750 affected homes - including those in Fenland - can stay where they are.

This latest upset in care homes follows hot on the heels of last month’s announcement that Kingswood Park in March will close later this year.

Bill Green, whose wife Connie was in Kingswood Park, said the Southern Cross issue was a worry as residents currently looking to relocate from the axed March home would most likely be looking at places like Strathmore House and Dove Court.

His wife has been moved to Heron House in March but Mr Green said that is still a worry as owners of that home - Four Seasons - is also in financial difficulties.

“It is very worrying, there is already not enough places locally and if any of these other homes are forced to close in the near future then it will cause an even greater shortage,” said Mr Green, who added the atmosphere in Kingswood Park was now very down with residents just waiting to be moved and the staff facing redundancy.

Local Euro MP Richard Howitt has blamed government policy for the current care home crisis claiming swingeing cuts in the amount of cash it provides to local councils has led to a cut in local authority placements and the slashing of fees paid to care home providers.