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Care home operator HC-One announces sale of 52 homes with four closures leaving thousands of jobs in limbo

by Matt Trinder
Industrial reporter

THE closure of care homes in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic shows just how “broken” the social care system is, GMB said today.

HC-One, Britain’s largest residential care provider, has announced that 52 of its 300 homes are to be sold, with four closing permanently.

The company said that the sales and closures would only happen when it was “convinced” that it had found alternative local providers.

GMB is calling for the homes affected by HC-One’s move to be brought under local authority control and for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide emergency funding for the sector in tomorrow’s Budget. 

GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said that the pandemic had revealed the “yawning cracks in the system” after years of government neglect.

“This announcement shows how broken the current system is – maybe even on the verge of collapse,” she said.  

“The appalling lack of government strategy has led to thousands more staff and residents facing another crisis, with their futures uncertain, while providers try and move the deckchairs and paper over the cracks.

“Ministers have promised reform, calling for better integration with our health and public services, but we need more than just words: we need the details of the plan and action now.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has committed to publishing plans for social-care reform “later this year” as the underfunded and fragmented sector struggles to cope with the pandemic.

On his first day in the job in July 2019, Mr Johnson pledged to fix the crisis in the sector “once and for all,” saying outside 10 Downing Street that it was “time to change the record.”

Ms Harrison said: “GMB members and residents in HC-One are now waiting to hear what their future is.

“Never before has a properly funded national care service been so important.”

A HC-One spokesperson said: “A review of our portfolio was well under way before the pandemic started and we took the decision to put this review on hold last year. 

“We will be working closely with prospective buyers to ensure that our colleagues’ jobs and existing terms and conditions are protected.

“For those homes which will close, we will provide all possible support to our colleagues to gain ongoing employment.”

More than 30,000 care home residents have died after contracting coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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