CIVIL servants are in talks with a company that runs 17 care homes in Sheffield and a further seven in Rotherham and Doncaster, amid fears it could collapse.
A cabinet minister has revealed officials are in discussions with Southern Cross Healthcare about plans to address their financial difficulties.
There have been reports the firm might break its banking covenants because of spiralling rents on its homes and a decline in fees.
It is feared that if the firm were to go bankrupt the owners of its care homes could repossess them. This could potentially see thousands of vulnerable people needing to be rehoused.
Southern Cross Healthcare provides care home beds for more than 30,000 elderly residents at 750 properties across Britain.
It has 17 homes in Sheffield, including Alexander Court in Crookes, Moorend Place in Walkley, Ascot Lodge in Intake, Hartwell in Ecclesfield, and Silver Lodge in Chapeltown.
There are four homes in Rotherham and three in Doncaster.
Paul Kenny, General Secretary of the GMB union, said: “Staff turnover in the care homes is very high because of the low pay to the workers, the majority of whom have had pay frozen.
“This lack of continuity of care staff has an adverse effect on the care the elderly receive. They now face the prospect of losing their homes.”
The difficulties faced by Southern Cross were raised with David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Question Time.
Pledging action, the PM said: “It is vitally important we have good residential care provision in our country.”
Commons Leader Sir George Young told MPs ministers are keeping in close touch with the situation.
Phil Whitaker, regional director of Southern Cross Healthcare, said: “I would like to reassure people that residents in our care homes do not face the prospect of being made homeless.
“Working with the support of our banks, Southern Cross is focused on improving our operational effectiveness and accelerating negotiations with landlords to seek reductions in our rent bill.
“We have an important role to play in delivering frontline services to care for elderly people across the UK.
“We are taking decisive action to ensure our business remains sustainable.
“We are also urging government, landlords and commissioners to work cooperatively in supporting us.”
CARE HOMES UNDER THREAT - SHEFFIELD, ROTHERHAM and DONCASTER
Walkley Lodge, Walkley
Moorend Place, Walkley
Heeley Bank, Heeley Bank Rd
Alexander Court, Crookes
Holmwood, Norton Lees,
Ascot Lodge, Intake
Blenheim Court, Lane Top
Dalewood View, Woodseats,
Haythorne Place, Shirefield
Chatsworth Grange, Intake
Silver Lodge, Chapletown
Chapel Lodge, Chapletown
The Lodge, Killamarsh
Ladyfield House, Kiveton Park
The Abbeys, Rawmarsh
Swallow Wood, Mexborough
Warneford House, Adwich le Street
Amethyst House, Old Rossington
The Beeches, Armthorpe