UNISON, the largest trade union within the Four Seasons Group, was notified this morning that seven homes are to close across Northern Ireland.
This brings to eight the number of Four Seasons closures within the past month and may not be the end of the matter.
The trauma on residents caused by these home closures is no less than the trauma caused by closure proposals in the NHS, but has severe consequences for the Health and Social Care Board and the five trusts involved.
The trauma for over 300 staff now facing job loss is no less severe.
UNISON is commencing urgent negotiations with Four Seasons but has also today contacted each of the five health trusts for urgent meetings.
The five health trusts are the major clients of Four Seasons. and many of their decisions on the future of the NHS care home provision were predicated on using the private sector as an alternative provider.
UNISON has been alerting the board and the trusts to financial problems within Four Seasons for some time now.
Today’s announcement is a clear indicator that residential care for our older population cannot be left to the market. When their care needs are balanced against profit margins, the money wins out every time.