Care workers and pensioners messed around by the Southern Cross meltdown are again at mercy of market forces as its buyer was sold on to another private firm on Monday.
Four Seasons Health Care - which took on 100 homes last year after Southern Cross went into liquidation - praised its own buyout by private equity group Terra Firma Capital Partners.
Four Seasons's chair Geoff Westmore said the £825 million buyout, which pushes former majority shareholder RBS into the passenger seat, was "a great result for all our stakeholders."
But despite the name, care workers' union GMB warned Terra Firma's takeover had left Four Seasons's 20,000 residents and 30,000 employees on shaky ground.
Terra chairman Guy Hands is best known for his disastrous handling of the record label EMI - bought for £4.2bn in 2007 and sold off in 2011 after axing 3,000 staff, stripping £200m from its operating budget and leaving the label £3.4bn in debt.
But Mr Hands was full of confidence on Monday and said he was "committed to further investment and long-term sustainable growth.
"Our number one priority is to ensure that Four Seasons delivers consistent high-quality care and peace of mind for residents, service users and their families."
But GMB national officer Justin Bowden was not convinced and said the public deserved "urgent assurances" the government would step in to prevent an "EMI-style debacle."
Mr Bowden pointed out the chain had essentially been state-owned since RBS took a controlling stake in 2009.
"After Southern Cross and uncertainty prior to this sale, residents, their families and staff desperately crave stability and calm," he said.
National Pensioners Convention general secretary Dot Gibson warned Southern Cross and Terra Firma's takeover proved the entire industry "not fit for purpose."
"People get very worried about their father or grandmother going into care.
"It just isn't right that profit extraction is part of the process when looking after some of our most vulnerable people.
"It's broken, everybody knows it's broken. The question is, how to fix it.
"What Britain needs is an NHS-style network of state-owned care homes."
Official inflation figures understate the real extent of rising costs, but even the government's own CPI scheme lays bare the ongoing misery for working people and those dependent on benefits.
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