CALLS have been made for Fife Council to ‘think again’ over its decision to privatise council-run care homes in light of the ‘financial difficulties’ being experienced in private sector provision.
Southern Cross, one of the UK’s leading care home providers, is currently struggling to cope with a rising rent bill and cuts in funding from the public sector.
The firm, which runs Adam House in Dysart and Chapel Level in Broom Gardens, has negotiated reduced rates with some of their landlords for the next four months.
And as we went to press news broke that it planned to shed several thousand jobs from its homes.
This week Councillor Alex Rowley, Labour leader in Fife, called for the local authority’s privatisation decision to be reviewed.
He said: “I was told at the Health and Social Care Committee that Southern Cross has seven homes in Fife, and that the Council support payments for 255 people. I made it clear that this threat to provision highlighted the need for a mixed provision of care from private, public and independent sectors in our care homes.
“The financial uncertainties around private care home provision is a compelling reason why Fife Council’s administration must think again in its determination to privatise care homes.
“The SNP propped up by Lib Dem councillors have repeatedly blocked discussion and debate on this issue, they have ignored a public consultation which overwhelmingly opposed the privatisation of the homes.
“Surely now that the SNP Scottish government is pointing out the risks of privatising the care homes they will have the humility to listen and think again.”
Councillor Tim Brett, chairman of Fife’s social work and health committee, said he was ‘obviously very concerned’ about the Southern Cross situation.
He said: “We’ve been aware the company has been in difficulties for months now. It’s not new.
“There’s been a national contingency group with representatives from Cosla and the Scottish Government, as well as a local contingency group set up.
“There is no evidence that we’re suddenly going to have a closure of all the homes. However we do need to watch the situation carefully.
Right for Fife
“More than 85 per cent of the beds in Fife are provided by those in the private and not-for-profit sectors.
“There are 40 different organisations providing these services, yes Southern Cross is one of the biggest one, but there are others running several homes.
“There is great variety, and simply to say because one company is in difficulty we need to be worried the same thing could happen to others doesn’t make sense to me.”
Councillor Brett added that despite concerns surrounding Southern Cross he thinks the Council is ‘still doing the right thing and the right thing is what’s best for the people of Fife’.