Union warns of care home closures

CARE homes for elderly people across Essex face the threat of closure unless staff accept “brutal” pay cuts, it was claimed last night.Concerned union officials are in urgent discussions with Excelcare, which owns 10 care homes in the county.

CARE homes for elderly people across Essex face the threat of closure unless staff accept “brutal” pay cuts, it was claimed last night.

Concerned union officials are in urgent discussions with Excelcare, which owns 10 care homes in the county.

Five homes are said to be under “imminent threat” of closure but Excelcare denied it plans to shut them. However, it has admitted there were “compelling business reasons” to make some changes and said the changes it was proposing would help to ensure long-term employment security.

Excelcare only took control of the care homes from Essex County Council in March last year, pledging to maintain high standards.


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At the time the controversial change was likened to “selling off the family silver” with both doctors and pensioner groups warning that the long-term future could not be guaranteed.

GMB, Britain's General Union, said care homes that could close include Greenways in Colchester, Lime Court in Dovercourt and Longfield in Maldon.

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They have told care staff not to be “bullied or blackmailed” into accepting minimum wage conditions during the ongoing negotiations.

And union bosses have now called on Essex County Council to bring some of the homes back into its control saying it will make the public money more accountable.

Mick Ainsley, GMB organiser, said the proposed pay cuts proposed were “brutal”.

“Essex County Council fund many of the residents in Excelcare homes. These homes must be brought back into council control and the public money paid to fund the residents' care properly and be accountable to the elected chamber,” he said.

Essex County Council said: “We are very sensitive to this issue. We are having ongoing and productive discussions with Excelcare about all aspects of the situation.

“This includes the employment of the staff, although this is essentially an internal matter for Excelcare to resolve.

“At the moment, we understand that Excelcare has no plans to announce any closures. For this reason, we proceed along the lines that, as set out very clearly in this process, the employment of staff remains a matter for the company in all respects.

“Our primary duty of care is to the residents themselves and we will ensure their needs will continue to be met.”

A spokesman for Excelcare said: “The companies that manage the Essex homes have a responsibility to ensure that they operate efficiently and provide a good level of care for our service users.

“A review of the care homes has identified that for compelling business reasons the company needs to make some changes.

“We are in the process of ongoing consultations with GMB, Unison and our employees.

“The objective of this exercise is to ensure that we can continue to provide viability for the long-term employment security, stability for all employees and continue to maintain service requirements.

“We wish to reassure staff that there are no plans to close any of the Essex care homes.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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